Donald Trump

Candlelight Vigil for Peace Floods U.Va. Campus, Honors Charlottesville Victim

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what, you just magnified her," Heather Heyer's mother said at a memorial service earlier in the day

Hundreds of people gathered on the University of Virginia campus Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil against hate and violence days after Charlottesville erupted in chaos during a white nationalist rally.

The vigil came hours after a memorial service for 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was mowed down by a car as she protested the rally. Two Virginia state troopers also died in the crash of their helicopter, which was monitoring the rally.

Heyer's parents urged people at her memorial service to honor her life by living it as she would, lovingly and speaking out for justice. Her mother told those gathered, which included the governor, to channel their anger over Heyer's death at the white nationalist rally into "righteous action" and to have difficult conversations with those they disagree with.

"Let's find that spark of conviction," Susan Bro said. "Find what's wrong and say to yourselves, 'What can I do to make a difference?'"

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what, you just magnified her," Bro added.

In the evening, marchers peacefully assembled in the same place where hundreds of torch-carrying white nationalists marched Friday, when several fights broke out. That was followed Saturday by clashes between white nationalist rally attendees and those protesting them in the city's streets, culminating in the deadly car crash.

Video footage showed the group moving slowly through campus before singing several spirituals and observing a moment of silence for the three lives lost during Saturday's violence.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

3 dog deaths investigated at Potomac Yard PetSmart

Katie Ledecky's still excited about swimming after all these years

At the memorial, Bro noted that she could have had a private service, but the public memorial to is true to who Heyer was, and hoped her death would inspire others to do good.

"I'd rather have my child, but if I've got to give her up, by golly, we're going to make it count," Bro said, to a standing ovation at a downtown Charlottesville theater.

Heyer's grandfather said his granddaughter always wanted fairness, even from a young age.

Attendees were asked to wear purple, Heyer's favorite color, in her memory, and the friends and co-workers who spoke remembered her as a loving, courageous and principled woman who firmly believed in justice and equality.

"She wanted equality and on this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate," said her father, Mark Heyer. "And for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other. I think that's what the Lord would want us to do."

He added, "I came here today and I was just overwhelmed by the rainbow of colors in this room. That's how she was."

President Donald Trump called Heyer a "truly special young woman" in a tweet Wednesday noting that her memorial service was taking place.

"She will long be remembered by all," Trump said in the tweet. The White House has not indicated if he has spoken to Heyer's family.

Heyer was among the hundreds of protesters who had gathered Saturday in Charlottesville to decry what was believed to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade — including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They descended on the city for a rally prompted by the city's decision to remove a Confederate monument.

Chaos and violence erupted before the event even began, with counter-demonstrators and rally-goers clashing in the streets.

Authorities forced the crowd to disperse, and groups then began roaming through town. Counter-protesters had converged for a march along a downtown street when suddenly a Dodge Challenger barreled into them, hurling people into the air. Video shows the car reversing and hitting more people.

The Ohio man who police say was driving, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was described by a former high school teacher as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. He was quickly taken into custody and has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

Heyer grew up in nearby Greene County and worked as a legal assistant at a law firm. Her boss, Larry Miller, said the young woman was active in the firm's bankruptcy practice and was like a family member to him.

"She's very compassionate, she's very precise, got a big heart, she wants to make sure that things are right. She cares about the people that we take care of. She's just a great person," Miller said ahead of the service.

Another member of the law firm, Alfred Wilson, told a story at the memorial service about how she broke up with a man she was seeing because he'd been bothered by seeing she worked for Wilson, a black man.

"She was always there for everyone," Wilson said.

Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said this week that his department is working with Heyer's family to ensure the safety of those at vigils and other memorials.

The Paramount Theater, which is hosting the vigil, said in a statement that it had made arrangements for overflow attendees to view the service through a livestream.

"I miss her so, so much, but I'm going to make her death worth something," Susan Bro told The Associated Press.

Also killed Saturday were two Virginia State Police troopers who were aboard a helicopter that was providing video of Saturday's event before it broke off to lend support to a motorcade for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The helicopter crashed outside of Charlottesville. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

A funeral for Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates has been set for Friday and a funeral for Lt. H. Jay Cullen, the helicopter's pilot, is scheduled for Saturday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us