The heartbreaking reason why mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer has to keep her daughter's gravesite a secret
With white nationalists planning on commemorating the one year anniversary of the despicable events in Charlottesville, the mother of slain Heather Heyer says she has to hide where her daughter has been laid to rest.
The Unite the Right rally protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee which took place in Charlottesville this year featured white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis.
The escalating violence between these white supremacists, many of whom carried semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Muslim and antisemitic banners, and the counter-protestors eventually came to a head with James Field Jr. ramming his car into the protestors, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Hayer, and the injury of 30 others.
Now, with some of the same Unite the Right organizers planning to commemorate the anniversary of this year's events next year, Hayer's mother says she has to hide the site where her daughter has been laid to rest. Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, told The Daily Beast that her daughter's ashes were in an 'unmarked, completely protected site' that is not open to the public in order to shield the grave.
She says the site cannot be publicly known because of all those extremists who proclaim their hatred for Heyer and Bro and continue to threaten violence against her and her family. She also says the location is secret to protect those who work there. Commenting on having to go such lengths to protect her daughter's memory, she said: "It's a symptom of hate in society that you should have to protect your child's grave, for Pete's sake. So, I'm protecting my child now."
Following the spate of violence, president Trump refused to criticize the white nationalists and neo-Nazis, instead skirting the issue altogether and blaming 'many sides' for the debacle and claiming that there were 'very fine people' on both sides. Trump was roundly criticized from all quarters for his comments, with Bro just one in his ever-increasing line of naysayers.
She says, following those remarks, she refused to take any of his calls. She said: "He responds off the cuff. He doesn’t bother to think before speaks, or very calculatedly is trying to manipulate all of us. I’m not sure which. I can grant there was a lot of violence on both sides, but to say there were good people on both sides—that’s where I draw the line."
"You can’t say there were good people coming into town with their fists taped prepared to draw blood and do harm." She was also of the opinion that her daughter was not alone in being disrespected by the president, saying: "He disrespects Native Americans, black people, history, everything. He has no respect for anybody. This man is not about respect. He never was, he never will be. It’s who he is."
She also partly blames him for his daughter's death. Explaining her stance on the president, she said: "I'm starting to come to that conclusion because he definitely pushes a hateful agenda. There are family members that will possibly not have anything to do with me for saying so. Many family members are strong Trump supporters, and continue to be so despite everything they see."
Wanting to consolidate her daughter's legacy of social justice, she set up the Heather Heyer Foundation, which aims to support the next generation of social-justice leaders.
Heyer's name was back in the news recently after it emerged that the man responsible for her death, James Alex Fields Jr., had his charges upped from the initial second-degree murder to first-degree murder; for which he might serve jail time anywhere between 20 years to life if found guilty. Bro, as well as the other victims of the attack, attended the hearing.
According to a local NBC affiliate, she gave a thumbs-up to the camera crew as she left the courthouse and when asked if she thought Fields was responsible for her daughter's death, she replied 'Absolutely.' Bro won nationwide plaudits for speaking out at her daughter's emotionally charged funeral held at Charlottesville's Paramount Theater. Delivering a moving, heart-wrenching speech, she said: "They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what, you just magnified her."
A report by The Washington Post on the Charlottesville violence and police response to it which as published this month criticized both local law enforcement and local authorities for not containing the situation. Bro felt the same, saying: "I know that for whatever reason we were woefully unprepared and woefully unprotected for what ensued."
Asked if she felt the authorities were responsible for her daughter's death, she said: "Well, things could have turned out differently had they responded differently. It’s not for me to figure out the whys and wherefores. But we know, according to the report, that all they put there was a school resource officer who definitely had a reason to fear for her safety. She wasn’t given protection. And then to simply leave one sawhorse to stop traffic…"
Communist government of Charlottesville denies permits for multiple right-wing rallies including the Unite the Right Anniversary Rally. BUT WE WON'T BE STOPPED.https://t.co/OQ4j6IqPBS https://t.co/B086ycC89d— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) December 12, 2017
The *initial* permit decision is bogus. The rationale they give for denying it almost makes it seem like they want me to win. See you guys in court!— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) December 11, 2017
Rally still happening in Charlottesville's Lee Park August 11-12th, 2018! https://t.co/dEFe0XtYpA
Charlottesville has learned from this year's incident and has denied permits to five organizers who were planning the commemorative event next year, with city manager Maurice Jones writing that the events would 'present a danger to public safety.' However, the story is still not over, with Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized this year’s "Unite the Right" march, telling his Twitter followers that the "Communist government of Charlottesville" had denied his application and vowing to sue “early next year.”
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