This weekend the unthinkable happened for one woman and her family. Heather Heyer died when a car rammed into a group protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday. The attack, one of many violent actions perpetrated by KKK members, sympathizers, and racists at the rally, resulted in 19 other injuries, although none others were killed.
While police haven’t publicly identified the dead yet, a family friend stepped up to do so. Heather Heyer worked as a paralegal in Virginia, and was in Charlottesville as a counter-protester.
Here’s how the tragic events went down. White nationalists and other groups gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue from the city’s Emancipation Park. The bronze cast depicted Confederate General Robert E. Lee riding a horse. Others also showed up in a counter protest.
The demonstration turned lethal when a gray Dodge sports car drove directly into the anti-right group.
The driver behind the wheel was James Fields, Jr., age 20, who now faces counts of second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. A civil rights investigation is in the works as well. James hails originally from Ohio, but he and his family recently moved to Northern Kentucky. An ex-teacher said that James obsessed over Hitler and the Nazis. James also took antipsychotic medication.
His mother said she knew he was attending a rally in Virginia, but did not know it was a white supremacist rally. She says she had told him to be peaceful.
Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, has also spoken out.
A GoFundMe account was set up in Heather’s name by a family friend. Another GoFundMe account is raising money for Unity Cville to help support other victims.
Two state police officers were also killed in a helicopter crash related to the rally. Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates were being flown in to help provide backup in Charlottesville when their helicopter went down in a wooded area.
The events were shocking to many, and scary to see. Our hearts go out to Heather’s family, all those hurt in Saturday's attack, and all those struggling against this kind of violence in our world.