At service for Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer, a call for 'righteous action'

Caitlin Dickson

The mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., called Wednesday for channeling anger into “righteous action.”

“The truth is we’re all going to have our differences, we’re all going to be angry with each other,” Susan Bro told more than 1,000 people at a memorial service at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater. “Let’s channel that anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let’s channel that anger into righteous action.”

Bro joined Heyer’s father, grandfather and co-workers in remembering the 32-year-old paralegal as a compassionate yet stubborn opponent of injustice.

“She wanted fairness, she wanted justice, she wanted everybody to get equal respect,” said Heyer’s grandfather, Elwood Shrader.

<span class="s1">Flowers mark the spot where Heather Heyer was killed. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)</span>
Flowers mark the spot where Heather Heyer was killed. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Heyer was killed while protesting against a rally of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of the alt-right in Charlottesville Saturday. James Alex Fields Jr. has been charged with second-degree murder for driving his car into a crowd of protesters, fatally injuring Heyer and sending several others to the hospital. Former high school teachers have said that Fields, 20, was fascinated by Nazi Germany and “had a fondness for Adolf Hitler.”

President Trump, who tweeted before the memorial Wednesday that Heyer was a “beautiful and incredible” woman who “will be long remembered by all,” has sparked widespread outrage with his response to the violence in Charlottesville. In a conflicting series of statements, he condemned violence on “many sides,” qualified it by denouncing racist groups specifically, then seemed to revert to his initial position in a heated exchange with reporters in New York City Tuesday.

Asked Tuesday if he had contacted Heyer’s family, Trump said he hadn’t but intended to.

“We just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other,” Mark Heyer, Heather’s father, said through tears at Wednesday’s memorial. “I think that’s what the Lord would want us to do. Just love one another.”

Bro, however, was more interested in urging people to take action than preaching forgiveness.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” she said, as the crowd stood in applause. “I’d rather have my child, but by golly if I gotta give her up, we’re gonna make it count.”

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