On Saturday, hundreds of white nationalists protested the removal of a statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. The statue, of Confederate general and slavery advocate Robert E. Lee, symbolized an oppressive time in American history, and the white supremacists’ movement inspired a vehement counter-protest.
Tensions were at an all-time high, with some marching for the superiority of the white race and others marching for the equality of all men and women.
But the heated demonstrations took a turn for the worst when a Nazi-sympathizer, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., drove his car into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacists.
— Tariq Nasheed ?? (@tariqnasheed) August 13, 2017
Tragically, his actions injured 19 people and left one woman, 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer, dead in his wake.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 14, 2017
As the nation begins to try and pick up the pieces after such a horrifying incident, Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, feels like her precious daughter’s death was, in a way, meant to be.
She sat down with the Huffington Post on Sunday and, with tears in her eyes, tried to articulate just how good of a person Heather was:
“She always had a very strong sense of right and wrong, she always, even as a child, was very caught up in what she believed to be fair.”
In light of Heather’s strong-willed beliefs, Susan shared that she can’t help but think her daughter’s death was indicative of her life’s mission: To make a change in the world.
“Somehow I almost feel that this is what she was born to be, is a focal point for change. I’m proud that what she was doing was peaceful, she wasn’t there fighting with people.”
Aside from equality issues, Susan said her daughter fought for all kinds of causes — even her own friends.
She told the Huffington Post that Heather was a charitable woman who often helped the underprivileged, as well as anyone she knew who was “having a hard time,” letting friends and acquaintances in need stay with her as long as they needed to — sometimes for months on end.
One of Heather’s neighbors told the Huffington Post that Heather “lived her life like her path ― and it was for justice.”
As for who Heather inherited her passion for fairness from, it appears as though her mother might have inspired her. When asked about the man responsible for her daughter’s death, Susan responded with sympathy:
“I think he’s still very young, and I’m sorry he believed that hate could fix problems. Hate only brings more hate. Heather was not about hate, Heather was about stopping hatred. Heather was about bringing an end to injustice.”
She continued, but was no longer able to hold back her tears:
“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. I’m very sorry that [Fields] chose that path because he has now ruined his life as well as robbed a great many of us of someone we love very much.”
Susan concluded her remarks with one final message:
“No mother wants to lose a child, but I’m proud of her. I’m proud of what she did.”
Fields is being held in jail on the suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. His bond has not yet been set, and according to reports, his hearing will occur on August 25.
A GoFundMe page for Heather was set up and raised over $225,000, but it has now been closed to further donations. Her last public activity on Facebook was uploading a quote that read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”