Memorial for Heather Heyer on 4th Street in Charlottesville, 2017
Heather Danielle Heyer
May 29, 1985
|Died||August 12, 2017|
Heather Heyer ( May 29, 1985 - August 12, 2017) was a paralegal and an activist for civil rights. She became a symbol for civil rights after she was killed during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Life[change | change source]
Heather Heyer was born in Charlottesville. She grew up in Ruckersville, Virginia, north of Charlottesville near Shenandoah National Park. Her mother was Susan Diane Bro of Ruckersville, Virginia. Her father was Mark Heyer of Florida. Her step-father was Kim Bro. Heyer's parents separated when she was five months old.
Unite the Right rally[change | change source]
Before the rally[change | change source]
On the Friday night before the rally, hundreds of white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heyer's friend was livestreaming the videos on Facebook. She saw white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching with torches and openly giving heil salutes. Heather’s friends said that the videos scared Heather. They decided not to go to Saturday’s much larger Unite the Right rally, because they thought it would be even more dangerous. But later that night, Heather texted her friend, "I feel compelled to go, to show solidarity and make trouble."
The Saturday rally[change | change source]
On the day of the rally, many people stayed away. Those who came to the rally saw demonstrators with weapons and white nationalists with Nazi and KKK symbols. In the late morning, the local government declared a state of emergency and tried to stop the rally, but no one left. Instead they moved to other streets in the downtown area. The Virginia National Guard came to help the local police, but none of them seemed to know what to do. Some of the white nationalists, including Christopher Cantwell and former KKK grand wizard David Duke, spoke to reporters.
Heather Heyer arrived about 1 pm with two of her friends from the law firm. The three women had nothing in their hands except cell phones and car keys. Heather was wearing a black t-shirt and pants in preparation for her shift as a waitress later that night, with her hair in one braid down the back. They started walking on Water Street. A video shows that Heyer stopped to talk to a woman wearing a helmet, and asked why she was with a hate group of violent white men. The women did not answer. They continued to walk on Water Street, but when they came to Fourth Street, they saw right-wing demonstrators, some with weapons, so they turned onto the much smaller Fourth Street. On the narrow Fourth Street, they were attacked by a man who drove a car into the group. Nineteen people were hurt. Heyer was the only person who died.
Police arrested the driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio. Fields was charged in a state court with second-degree murder, and in a federal court with 30 counts of hate crimes. He was granted an attorney to advise him in a third case, a federal civil suit.
After the rally[change | change source]
|“||If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. – Heather Heyer's last words on Facebook ||”|
A memorial service was held for Heather Heyer on Wednesday, August 16 at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and US Senator Tim Kaine attended the service. Susan Bro spoke to the crowd inside the 1000-seat theater, "They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her." Her mother pointed to the Facebook message that Heyer posted in November: 'If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.' "I want you to pay attention, find what's wrong ... and say to yourself, what can I do to make a difference?" Bro told the crowd. "And that's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile. I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I've got to give her up, we're going to make it count."
Heyer was buried in a secret grave to protect it from neo-Nazis, and to protect the people who work there. Bro says she recieves death threats from white supremacists. Some of Heyer's family could not go to her funeral because of the danger.
President Trump tried to call Heyer's mother, but after Trump said there was blame on “many sides”, she refused to take his calls. Bro did not agree with Trump when he said there were "very fine people" on both sides. According to Bro, "You can’t say there were good people coming into town with their fists taped prepared to draw blood and do harm. That’s not good people."
After the rally, the police chief of Charlottesville resigned. The city manager did not get a new contract. In November, Nikuyah Walker was elected to the city council and became the city’s first black female mayor. One year later, Jason Kessler tried to get a permit for an anniversary rally of white supremacists, but he withdrew the request. Instead he decided he wanted a rally in Washington that day. The state of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville declared a state of emergency ahead of the one-year anniversary, so they can increase security and authorize the Virginia National Guard to help.
Legacy[change | change source]
The Heather Heyer Foundation[change | change source]
|“||They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her. – Susan Bro at her daughter Heather's funeral||”|
One of Heyer's friends started a GoFundMe page to help her family after her death. The page raised $109,000 in less than 24 hours. Heather's mother Bro didn't know what to do with the money, so she started an organization with Alfred Wilson, the African-American lawyer who hired Heyer at Miller Law Group.
Only fifteen days after her daughter's death, Susan Bro spoke at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, California and announced the newly formed Heather Heyer Foundation. "Help me make Heather’s death count,” she said. “I want people to know that Heather never marched alone." The Heather Heyer Foundation provides scholarships to fight against hatred and promote social change, in the areas of study of law, paralegal studies, social work, social justice and education.
So far, the Heather Heyer Foundation has given eight scholarships worth at least $1,000. They worked with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on several of those.
Heather Heyer Way[change | change source]
In December 2017, Fourth Street in Charlottesville, where Heather was killed, was given the name "Heather Heyer Way" to honor Heyer. Heyer's mother and the mayor of Charlottesville spoke at the ceremony.
In popular culture[change | change source]
Detroit rapper Eminem named Heyer in his song Like Home from the album Revival, "If we start from scratch like a scab for scars to heal/And band together for Charlottesville/And for Heather, fallen heroes."
BlacKkKlansman (2018), which ends in a montage of the Charlottesville rally, is in memoriam of Heyer.
Awards[change | change source]
- In 2017, Heather Heyer received a posthumous Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Social Justice. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, accepted the award.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center added her name and image to the Wall of Tolerance inside the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
Photo gallery[change | change source]
Video of car attack, Charlottesville, 2017
Related pages[change | change source]
- 2017 Unite the Right rally
- Heather Heyer (Charlottesville car attack)
- Heather Heyer (Unite the Right rally)
References[change | change source]
- "HEATHER HEYER MEMORIAL". Paramount Theater. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "Heather Heyer, Charlottesville Victim, Is Recalled as 'a Strong Woman'". Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- CNN, Steve Almasy and Chandrika Narayan,. "Heather Heyer died 'fighting for what she believed in'". CNN. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Kennedy, Maev (2017-08-13). "Heather Heyer, victim of Charlottesville car attack, was civil rights activist". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Sweeney, Don (13 August 2017). "5 things to know about Heather Heyer". Retrieved 7 August 2018 – via Sacramento Bee.
- "Heather Heyer: Civil rights activist killed in Charlottesville car attack". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Sweeney, Don (2017-08-13). "5 things to know about Heather Heyer". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Sheehy, Gail. "What Heather Heyer Knew". The Cut. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Sheehy, Gail. "What Heather Heyer Knew". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Mother of Woman Killed in Charlottesville Says She Will Not Speak to Trump". Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "What We Know About James Alex Fields, Driver Charged in Charlottesville Killing". Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "Driver accused of plowing into crowd at Charlottesville rally charged with federal hate crimes". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "NKY native James Alex Fields pleads not guilty in Charlottesville attack". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "James Alex Fields, worried about self-incrimination, gets lawyer for protection in civil cases". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "The poignant last Facebook post of the woman killed at Charlottesville anti-fascist protest". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- CNN, Jason Hanna, Rosa Flores and Steve Almasy,. "Heather Heyer memorial: Killing 'just magnified her,' mother says". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Heather Heyer, Charlottesville Victim, Cannot Be Silenced, Mother Says". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Heather Heyer was buried in secret grave to protect it from neo-Nazis after Charlottesville, mother reveals". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Lahitou, Jessicah. "Heather Heyer's Mom Says She Has To Hide Her Grave From White Supremacists". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Governor, Charlottesville Declare States of Emergency for Aug. 10-12 Planned Events". www.nbc29.com.
- "A new life for mother whose daughter was killed in Charlottesville". 6 August 2018 – via Christian Science Monitor.
- "Heather Heyer's Mother Susan Bro Announces 'Best Fight Against the System' Winners At VMAs 2017". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Staff, Our Foreign (28 August 2017). "Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer's mother pays moving tribute at MTV VMAs". Retrieved 7 August 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Desta, Yohana. "Heather Heyer's Mother Delivers the Emotional High Point of the V.M.A.s". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Susan Bro and the Miller Law Group Announce the Launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "A street in Charlottesville has been dedicated to Heather Heyer, who was killed protesting white supremacists". 21 December 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Charlottesville street renamed in honor of Heather Heyer". 20 December 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Donald Trump "hates black people" and is "basically Adolf Hitler," Eminem raps on new album 'Revival'". 15 December 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- "Heather Heyer to be Honored Posthumously as 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awardee for Social Justice; Heyer's Mother, Susan Bro, to Accept Award - Muhammad Ali Center | Be Great :: Do Great Things". Muhammad Ali Center | Be Great :: Do Great Things. 2017-09-06. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Center, Muhammad Ali. "Fifth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards Showcases International Humanitarians and Ali's Worldwide Impact". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "SPLC honors Heather Heyer at Civil Rights Memorial Center". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- Glanton, Dahleen. "Heather Heyer is a civil rights martyr". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-08-06.