UPDATE | Charlottesville victim's mother: Channel anger into action
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The mother of a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville urged mourners at a memorial service today to "make my daughter's death worthwhile" by confronting injustice and channeling "anger into righteous action," stirring applause from the hundreds of people who packed into a downtown theater wearing the victim's favorite color, purple.
"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her," said Susan Bro, pointing a defiant finger as her audience gave her a standing ovation.
The white nationalists who had pledged to show up and potentially disrupt services for Heather Heyer were nowhere to be seen among the residents, clergy people and out-of-town tourists who gathered outside the Paramount Theatre to remember her.
Heyer was among the hundreds of protesters who had gathered Saturday in Charlottesville to decry what was believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in a decade – including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They descended on the city for a rally prompted by the city's decision to remove a Confederate monument.
Counter-protesters had converged for a march along a downtown street when suddenly a Dodge Challenger barreled into them, hurling people into the air. The Ohio man who police say was driving, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was described by a former high-school teacher as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. He was quickly taken into custody and has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
Heyer's family members and friends said her death would only inspire them to fight harder for justice.
"This is not the end of Heather's legacy," Bro said. "It was just the beginning of Heather's legacy."
Bro urged those who wanted to honor her daughter to "find in your heart that small spark of accountability."
"You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done, and you make it happen," she said. ""You take that extra step and you find a way to make a difference in the world!"