RUCKERSVILLE, Va. ― The woman who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday when a car plowed into a group of anti-racist demonstrators was a 32-year-old paralegal who was passionate about social justice.
Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told HuffPost that her daughter attended Saturday’s rally because she “was about bringing an end to injustice.”
“Heather was not about hate, Heather was about stopping hatred,” Bro said through tears. “Heather was about bringing an end to injustice. I don’t want her death to be a focus for more hatred, I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”
According to The Associated Press, Heyer was struck as she was crossing the street. At least 19 others were injured in the crash, some critically, said police.
20-year-old James Fields Jr. was arrested over the incident and charged with murder. Fields was one of thousands of members of the so-called “alt right” who were in Charlottesville attending Saturday’s “Unite The Right” march. The rally became violent after the white supremacists were confronted by anti-fascist groups.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) tweeted condolences to Heyer’s family and said that “her bravery should inspire us all to come together.”
As of Sunday afternoon, around $100,000 had been been pledged to a GoFundMe campaign in Heyer’s honor. According to the page, set up by a family friend, Heyer was a graduate of Willam Monroe High School in Stanardsville, located about 25 miles north of Charlottesville.
“Heather Heyer was murdered while protesting against hate,” the GoFundMe page read. “She will truly be missed.”
A neighbor of Heyer’s, who declined to be named, said on Sunday morning that the woman was well known locally.
“All I can say is she lived her life like her path ― and it was for justice,” the woman told HuffPost as she was getting into her car. Outside the neighbor’s home in the complex of duplex housing, a sign reads: “This is a welcoming household. We love our neighbors who are immigrants, LGBT, people of color, living with a disability, Muslim, women, and survivors of sexual assault. We love and respect our neighbors.”
Heyer was killed when a car careened into a crowd of hundreds of counter-protesters who had gathered in Charlottesville to oppose a white supremacist rally. A witness said people flew into the air “like they were just bowling pins.”
“It was just terrifying,” 23-year-old Thomas Pilnik told HuffPost.
Many took to Twitter to pay homage to Heyer. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), actress Janelle Monae and comedy writer Bess Kalb were among those who praised the young woman for her bravery and for standing up against hate.
Many also noted the poignancy of Heyer’s last public Facebook posting.
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” Heyer shared in November.
A candlelit vigil is being planned for Heyer in Charlottesville on Sunday evening. Hundreds on Facebook have expressed their desire to attend.