Heather Heyer's Mom Wants Her Daughter’s Death To Be A 'Rallying Cry For Justice'

"No mother wants to lose a child, but I’m proud of her. I’m proud of what she did."

This past weekend Unite the Right protesters descended on the college town of Charlottesville, Va., ostensibly to voice their opposition to the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. The demonstration had been in the works for weeks, and by the evening of August 11 members of various alt-right groups known for espousing white nationalist views were confronted by counter-protesters committed to denouncing their hateful rhetoric.

By the time the alt-right rally officially began on August 12, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard. A man has since been charged for allegedly driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.

The victim of the attack has been identified as Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who lived in Charlottesville and attended Saturday's counter-protest with a group of friends. In an interview with HuffPost's Andy Campbell, Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, reflected on her daughter's life and discussed how she would like her to be remembered.

"She always had a very strong sense of right and wrong. She always, even as a child, was very caught up in what she believed to be fair," Bro told the publication of her daughter. "Somehow I almost feel that this is what she was born to be, is a focal point for change. I'm proud that what she was doing was peaceful. She wasn't there fighting with people."

Friends and co-workers of Heyer's echoed her mother's sentiments. Marissa Blair, a pal who had been marching with Heyer just before her death, told the New York Times, "Heather was such a sweet soul, and she did not deserve to die."

Added, Alfred A. Wilson, Heyer's boss at the bankruptcy division at the Miller Law Group where she worked, "Heather was a very strong woman." She spoke out against "any type of discrimination," he said. "That's just how she's always been."

Wilson also recalled Heyer's overwhelming sense of empathy, noting he would often find her crying at her computer if she had seen something on Facebook about another person getting mistreated.

According to local Charlottesville outlet, The Daily Progress, a memorial service for Heyer is scheduled for August 16. Mourners are being asked to wear purple — Heyer's favorite color.

Heyer's father, Mark Heyer, told CNN of how his daughter was dedicated to helping others. "She died trying to bring about that purpose," he explained. "She was always passionate about the beliefs she held, she had a bigger backbone than I did."

Despite their grief, Heyer's parents have both expressed empathy for their daughter's killer. "We need to start with forgiveness and stop all of the hate," Heyer explained to CNN.

NBC News reports Bro also expressed her sympathy for to the two state troopers who lost their lives and thanked President Trump for "denouncing violence and hatred." The president was widely criticized over the weekend for issuing what many felt was a weak and lackluster response to the events in Charlottesville that failed to call out hate groups by name, so he followed up today with a much stronger statement that called alt-right factions "evil," according to The Washington Post.

Though it's only been about 48 hours since Heyer's death, Bro is already getting her wish. Vox reports activists have staged at least 682 "Solidarity With Charlottesville" events around the globe, and a sign suggesting Charlottesville's Emancipation Park be renamed "Heyer Memorial Park" has been posted not far from where Heyer died.

What's more? A GoFundMe page that was set up after Heyer's passing raised more than $225,000 in just two days and has since stopped accepting donations because of the overwhelming outpouring of support. Other GoFundMes have raised money in support of those injured at Charlottesville, including 20-year-old Deandre Harris.

"I don't want her death to be a focus for more hatred. I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion... No mother wants to lose a child, but I'm proud of her. I'm proud of what she did," Bro told HuffPost.


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