Heather Heyer's mother: 'They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her!'

'This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy,' says Susan Bro

Emily Shugerman
New York
Wednesday 16 August 2017 17:38 BST
Heather Heyer's mother: "You tried to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her"

The mother of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed at a white nationalist rally in Virginia, has issued a defiant response to the rally attendees.

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up," Susan Bro told the crowd gathered at her daughter's memorial service. "Well guess what? You just magnified her."

Ms Heyer was one of hundreds of people who gathered to protest the white nationalist gathering this weekend. She was killed on Saturday when a car – allegedly driven by a Nazi sympathiser – drove through a crowd of counter-protesters. Dozens of others were injured in the attack.

At her funeral, her mother praised her penchant for social justice, and her seemingly innate ability to "call out something that didn't seem right to her".

"I want this to spread, I don't want this to die," Ms Bro said of her daughter's activism. "This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy."

Ms Bro spoke with striking poise and passion, addressing the more than 1,000 people who turned out for the funeral. She urged the attendees to be brave in honour of her daughter, and to stand up to injustice where they saw it.

"You need to find it in your heart that small spark of accountability," she told the crowd. "...You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done, and you make it happen. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world."

Ms Heyer's father, Mark Heyer, also addressed the crowd, telling them of his daughter's passion and strong will. On the day of her death, he said, she was trying to "put down hate.”

Heather Heyer's father: "No father should have to do this"

Ms Heyer's alleged killer, James Alex Fields, has been charged with five felony counts, including murder. President Donald Trump called him "a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country". But Mr Heyer on Wednesday preached forgiveness – for Mr Fields, and the rest of the rally attendees.

"We just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other," he said. "I think that's what the Lord would want us to do – is to just love each other."

The funeral was held in Charlottesville's Paramount Theatre on Wednesday morning. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Senator Tim Kaine were in attendance.

Attendees were encouraged to wear purple – Ms Heyer's favourite colour. But looking out over the crowd, Mr Heyer commended the "rainbow" of people who had assembled.

"That was how Heather was," he said. "It didn't matter who you were, or where you were from. If she loved you, that was it – You were stuck."

He added: "For that, I'm truly proud of my daughter."

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