Heather Heyer: Father of Charlottesville victim says he forgives the white supremacist who killed his daughter

He hopes his daughter's death changes people's hearts, their thinking, and their understanding of people around them

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 15 August 2017 17:11 BST
A makeshift memorial to honour Heyer after she died in Charlottesville
A makeshift memorial to honour Heyer after she died in Charlottesville

The father of the woman who was killed during protests in Charlottesville over the weekend says that he forgives his daughter’s killer.

“My daughter was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone and she tried to stand up for that. And for her it wasn’t lip service, it was real. It was something that she wanted to share with everyone,” Mark Heyer told the Asburg Park Press of his 32-year-old daughter Heather Heyer.

“And my thoughts with all of this stuff is that people need to stop hating and they need to forgive each other. I include myself in that forgiving the guy that did this. He don’t know no better. I just think about what the Lord said on the cross. Lord, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing,” Mr Heyer continued.

Ms Heyer was killed when a grey Dodge Charger plowed through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville who had assembled to demonstrate against a gathering of White Supremacists in that Virginia city. Ms Heyer was the only immediate casualty, but 19 others were injured in the attack.

The alleged driver of the vehicle that killed Ms Heyer was 20-year-old James Fields, who had reportedly driven down to Virginia from his home in Ohio in order to participate in the white supremacy rally, which included various groups including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and members of the alt-right.

Mr Fields was arrested after the attack, and has been held on charges that include second degree murder. He was denied bail in his first court hearing after the incident.

But, while the death of Ms Heyer and the general conflict at the rallies in Charlottesville have sparked national outrage and heated debate, Mr Heyer has instead decided to take the position of forgiveness. He says that he is proud of his daughter, and hopes that her death helps people to love one another.

“My daughter’s life — I’m proud of her. I’m proud of her for standing up. She had more courage than I did. She had a stubborn backbone that if she thought she was right she would stand there and defy you. But if I understand her, she wanted to do it peacefully and with a fierceness of heart that comes with her conviction,” he said.

“I hope all this stuff that’s come out isn’t twisted into something negative but there comes a positive change in people’s hearts, in their thinking, in their understanding of their neighbor,” he continued. “We just need to forgive each other. And I just hope that’s what comes out of all this.”

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