Mother of Heather Heyer Shares Her Thoughts on the Upcoming Aug. 12 Anniversary
The mother of a woman killed following last year's Unite the Right rally says she does not see many changes in attitude when it comes to Charlottesville’s marginalized communities.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The mother of a woman killed following last year's Unite the Right rally says she does not see many changes in attitude when it comes to Charlottesville’s marginalized communities.
Susan Bro says the events of the upcoming August 12th anniversary weekend should not be about her daughter, 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Instead, Bro believes it should be about problems people of color still face in the city.
"I'd say more white people have woken up. But that's about it. The black activists have been fighting all along," said Bro.
That fight is what drew Heather to march on the streets of Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. James Alex Fields Jr. is accused of intentionally driving into Heather and dozens of other marchers on Fourth Street along the Downtown Mall. This is where Bro’s daughter was killed, and so many others were hurt.
"I felt here that my daughter was ripped away from me," said the mother.
Susan Bro says Charlottesville is changed forever, but now it's time to fix underlying community issues.
"We just can't come together and pat each other on the back and say, ‘I love you man,’ and it's all going to be okay. The issues have to be addressed. We have to, have to, have to address the issues," she said.
Those issues of inequities in housing, education, and criminal justice continue to affect communities of color in the city.
"It does happen to other people, and you have to accept that reality before we can fix that reality," said Bro.
When asked what should people do on the controversial anniversary- come downtown, stay at home, or leave all together - Bro said, "I don't know what everybody individually is called to do. I know what I'm going to be doing but I can't answer for other people. You have to figure that out for yourself."
Bro says it is important to remember all of the activists who showed up, the people injured, and the two Virginia State Police members who gave their lives on August 12.
Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and Virginia State Police Aviation Unit Commander Lt. Jay Cullen died when their helicopter crashed along Old Farm Road in Albemarle County. They assisted officers in pursuing Fields, who authorities say had fled the scene.
Bro says she visits the site of her daughter's death monthly to ground herself and recharge. Often, people show support for Bro and what's she's done in the past year, while others have questions.
"I finally concluded I'm going to do what I need to do. If you get it, great. If you don't get it, you want to talk about it, great," said Bro.
Bro believes if Heather were here she would be preparing to take another stand against white supremacists if they returned to Charlottesville.
"This is not about her. It took me the longest time, Henry, to figure out why people were so ga-ga over the story of Heather's death," Bro said to NBC29’s Henry Graff. "I think had it been a person of color that died, everybody would have went, ‘meh,’ and moved on. And that's not right and that's not fair."