Virginia rally victim's message
'magnified,' mother tells memorial
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[August 17, 2017]
By Scott Malone
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) - With tears
and defiant tributes, hundreds of purple-clad people packed an historic
Charlottesville theater on Wednesday to remember the 32-year-old woman
killed when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into
Heather Heyer, a paralegal whom colleagues said was devoted to social
justice, was killed after clashes on Saturday between white nationalists
attending a "Unite the Right" gathering and counter-protesters. James
Fields, a 20-year-old Ohio man, has been charged with her murder.
"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just
magnified her," Heyer's mother Susan Bro said to long and loud applause
from those gathered at the city's 1930s-era Paramount Theater.
Bro told the audience that her daughter's favorite Facebook post was "If
you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
"She paid attention. And she made a lot of us pay attention," Bro said.
"I want this to spread. I don't want this to die. This is just the
beginning of Heather's legacy."
The crowd later fell silent for the hymn "Amazing Grace", sung while the
sound of the sea played in the background. The singer, Barbara Edwards,
wife of the pastor of the city's Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church,
said it evoked the singing of the anthem in the belly of a slave ship.
In the crowd were Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Senator Tim
Kane and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. Many of those in attendance
wore purple, her favorite color, at the request of Heyer's family.
The theater's marquee outside read: "Heather Heyer, gone but not
Wearing a violet polo shirt, his voice breaking with emotion, Heyer's
father, Mark Heyer, told the gathering how truly proud he was of his
"I came here today and I was overwhelmed by the rainbow of colors in
this room," he said. "That's how Heather was."
Hundreds of people held lit candles and sang songs of love and
fellowship in Charlottesville later on Wednesday evening to remember
Heather Heyer at what was billed as a vigil for unity.
STATUES AND SLAVERY
Fallout from Heyer's death and the street fights among protesters has
become President Donald Trump's biggest domestic challenge. Trump was
assailed from across the political spectrum over his initial response
blaming "many sides" for the violence.
[to top of second column]
Car attack victim Heather Heyer's coworker Alfred Wilson speaks
about her during a memorial service for Heyer at the Paramount
Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 16, 2017.
On Monday, the Republican president bowed to political pressure and
denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan by name, but on Tuesday he
again inflamed tensions by insisting counter-protesters were also to
Residents of the usually quiet, liberal-leaning Virginia city were
horrified by the violence they said was brought by outsiders.
White nationalists called Saturday's rally to protest against plans
to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the
pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War.
Undeterred by the clashes, state and city leaders in several
southern U.S. states have vowed to step up efforts to remove such
monuments from public spaces.
Amid concerns trouble could erupt outside Wednesday's memorial, a
small group of anti-racist protesters wearing pink helmets and
carrying baseball bats and purple shields stood quietly near the
One of the group, who declined to be identified, said they brought
weapons to defend themselves in case the white supremacists
"The cops didn't protect us on Saturday and we don't trust them to
do so today," the group member said.
Also outside the theater, near where Heather Heyer was killed,
artist Sam Welty was chalking a large portrait of her on a memorial
wall that features many tributes to her.
"The way she lost her life, doing what she did, really stood for
Charlottesville," said Welty, 42.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump described Heyer as "beautiful and
incredible ... a truly special young woman. She will be long
remembered by all!"
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Additonal reporting by Jon Herskovitz in
Austin, Texas; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Frances Kerry,
Grant McCool and Paul Tait)
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