CHARLOTTESVILLE (CBS SF & AP) — In a moving and inspiring eulogy, the mother of Heather Heyer — who was killed during Saturday’s violent protest in Virginia — asked mourners Wednesday to honor her daughter by opening a dialogue about the issues dividing the nation.
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.
She was killed when a Dodge Challenger allegedly driven by 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. barreled into a group of demonstrators. Field, who was described by a former high school teacher as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, has been charged with second degree murder and other charges.
Heyer mother, Susan Bro, told the mourners: “They (the neo-nazis) tried to kill my child to shut her up. You didn’t shut her up. You magnified her.”
But Bro went on to ask those gathered to turn to informed discussions and not violence to help heal a divided nation.
“Here’s what I want to happen,” Bro told the assembly. “You ask me ‘What can I do?’ So many caring people. Pages and pages of stuff I’m going through. I’m reading pages and pages and pages of how she’s touching the world. I want to this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather’s legacy. This is not the end.”
Meanwhile, Heyer’s father – Mark Heyer — said his daughter wanted to “put down hate.”
“Heather’s passion extended to her ideas and her thoughts,” he said. “She could tell if someone wasn’t being straight with her and she’d call them on it.”
The service for 32-year-old Heyer was held at the theater in downtown Charlottesville, the sight of the deadly rally on Saturday. Attendees wore purple, Heyer’s favorite color, in her memory.
There were no sign of protesters outside the theater. White supremacists had threatened to attend, but none appeared to be at the site.
President Donald Trump tweeted for the first time about Heyer, calling her “beautiful and incredible” and a “truly special young woman.” He said “she will be long remembered by all!”
Trump told reporters Tuesday that he planned to reach out to Heyer’s family. The White House did not respond to questions Wednesday about whether Trump has contacted Heyer’s family.