Charlottesville protest victim Heather Heyer 'wanted to put down hate'

The grandfather of a woman who was killed during violent protests in Virginia has said she always wanted fairness, even from a young age.

Elwood Shrader told a memorial service for Heather Heyer at the Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville that she showed her passion for equality from an early age and swiftly called out things she thought were not right.

He told about 1,000 mourners gathered inside the theatre that his granddaughter wanted respect for everyone and believed all lives matter.

Mark Heyer, Heather's father, told the audience that no father should have to bury his child.

He said his daughter wanted to "put down hate".

The service for 32-year-old Ms Heyer was held at the theatre in Charlottesville, the site of the deadly rally on Saturday.

Attendees wore purple, Ms Heyer's favourite colour, in her memory.

Mark Heyer said: "Heather's passion extended to her ideas and her thoughts. She could tell if someone wasn't being straight with her and she'd call them on it."

So far, there were no sign of protesters outside the theatre. White supremacists had threatened to attend, but none appeared to be at the site.

Ms Heyer was a Charlottesville resident and legal assistant whose mother described her daughter as a courageous, principled woman and a firm believer in justice and equality.

She was among the hundreds of protesters who had gathered on 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 local authority's decision to remove a Confederate monument.

Chaos and violence erupted before the event even began, with counter-demonstrators and rally-goers clashing in the streets.

Authorities forced the crowd to disperse, and groups then began roaming through town.

Counter-protesters had converged for a march along a city centre street when a Dodge Challenger car barrelled into them, hurling people into the air.

Video footage shows the car reversing and hitting more people.

The Ohio man who police say was driving, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr, was quickly taken into custody and has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

Ms Heyer grew up in nearby Greene County and worked as a legal assistant at a law firm.

Her boss, Larry Miller, said the young woman was active in the firm's bankruptcy practice and was like a family member to him.

Mr Miller said: "She's very compassionate, she's very precise, got a big heart, she wants to make sure that things are right. She cares about the people that we take care of. She's just a great person."

Her mother, Susan Bro, said she would prefer to grieve in private but felt compelled to try to follow her daughter's example.

Ms Bro told the Associated Press: "I miss her so, so much, but I'm going to make her death worth something."

Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas said this week that his department is working with Ms Heyer's family to ensure the safety of those at vigils and other memorials.

The Paramount Theatre said it had made arrangements for overflow attendees to view the service through a live stream.

Also killed on Saturday were two Virginia State Police troopers who were aboard a helicopter that was providing video of the event before it broke off to lend support to a motorcade for Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

The helicopter crashed outside of Charlottesville. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

A funeral for Trooper-Pilot Berke MM Bates has been set for Friday, and a funeral for Lt H Jay Cullen, the helicopter's pilot, is scheduled for Saturday.

AP


 

Most Read in World