Remembering the Charlottesville, Virginia rally: 5 years later
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On August 12, 2017, James Alex Fields, drove through a group of people who were peacefully protesting a white supremacist "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia near the University of Virginia, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring more than a dozen others. President Donald Trump at the time condemned what he called an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides."
Since then, Fields, an avowed white supremacist, has been convicted and sentenced to two life sentences in prison and many continue to honor the life of Heather Heyer years after her death including her mother, Susan Bro, who started a foundation in her name which has provided scholarships to "individuals active in creating positive social change."
Heyer was a paralegal who spoke passionately about social issues. On the day of her death, she was peacefully protesting against a large crowd of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups who gathered in the college town of Charlottesville (many armed with tiki torches in a protest the night before). According to the foundation's website, she was a "young woman with a big heart and a passion for equity for all individuals."
Bro also lobbied Congress which helped to get the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act of 2021 or the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act passed. The bill "creates grants for state and local governments to combat hate crimes. It also authorizes additional penalties for hate crime offenses." The bill is also named for Jabara, an Arab Christian man who was murdered in Oklahoma by a man motivated by racial and religious animus.