Hundreds mourn for woman killed at Virginia rally
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - ReutersWith tears and defiant tributes, hundreds of purple-clad people packed an historic Charlottesville theater on Aug. 16 to remember the 32-year-old woman killed when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators.
Heather Heyer, a paralegal whom colleagues said was devoted to social justice, was killed after clashes on Aug. 12 between white nationalists attending a "Unite the Right" gathering and counter-protesters. James Fields, a 20-year-old Ohio man, has been charged with her murder.
"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her," Heyer's mother Susan Bro said to long and loud applause from those gathered at the city's 1930s-era Paramount Theater.
Bro told the audience that her daughter's favorite Facebook post was "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
"She paid attention. And she made a lot of us pay attention," Bro said. "I want this to spread. I don't want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy."
The crowd later fell silent for the hymn "Amazing Grace", sung while the sound of the sea played in the background. The singer, Barbara Edwards, wife of the pastor of the city's Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, said it evoked the singing of the anthem in the belly of a slave ship.
In the crowd were Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Senator Tim Kane and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. Many of those in attendance wore purple, her favorite color, at the request of Heyer's family.
The theater's marquee outside read: "Heather Heyer, gone but not forgotten."
Wearing a violet polo shirt, his voice breaking with emotion, Heyer's father, Mark Heyer, told the gathering how truly proud he was of his daughter.
"I came here today and I was overwhelmed by the rainbow of colors in this room," he said. "That's how Heather was."
Hundreds of people held lit candles and sang songs of love and fellowship in Charlottesville later on Aug. 16 to remember Heather Heyer at what was billed as a vigil for unity.
Fallout from Heyer's death and the street fights among protesters has become President Donald Trump's biggest domestic challenge. Trump was assailed from across the political spectrum over his initial response blaming "many sides" for the violence.