Heather Heyer, 32 years old, was killed protesting the white supremacist rally at Charlottesville on Saturday. A participant in the rally drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 19 others beside Heyer.
Today, about 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Heyer in Charlottesville. Her parents, Susan Bro and Mark Heyer, challenged the mourners to learn from their daughter’s love for others and outspokenness.
In a strong and hope-filled call to action, Bro showed the same resilience that she attributed to her daughter, saying, “I think the reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. We don’t all have to die. We don’t all have to sacrifice our lives. They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.” -- drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.
Heyer’s father, Mark, gave a message of peace and forgiveness—remembering his daughter’s love for people and for honesty. “Heather’s passion extended to her ideas, her thoughts…she could tell if someone wasn’t being straight. And she'd call you on it.”
Mark Heyer, said to the New York Post, "I can't hate the man who did this to her because that would make me as bad as the people who did this."
He said in a video interview, "You know, I just think of what the Lord said on the cross: Lord forgive 'em, they don't know what they're doing."
“As I listened to her friends…she loved people, she wanted equality, and in this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate," he said at the service. "And for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other. I think that’s what the Lord would want us to do— just love one another.”
"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her," says Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother pic.twitter.com/0mwTuQ0eY7— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 16, 2017
The large gathering at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville was guarded by “dozens” of police. Heyer, a paralegal, was, according to her boss Larry Miller, "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."
Heyer's mother said, "It's not all about forgiveness --I know that that's not a popular trend. But the truth is, we are gonna have our differences, we are going to be angry with each other, but let's channel that anger, not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let's channel that difference, that anger, into righteous action."
“I’m reading pages of pages of pages how she’s touching the world,” Bro said. “I want this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is not the end of Heather’s legacy. You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. What is there that I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see?”
“I’d rather have my child, Bro said. “But by golly, if I’ve got to give her up, we’re gonna make it count.”