Dozens of people gathered in downtown Charlottesville Wednesday morning for the dedication of Heather Heyer Way, named after the woman who was killed when a car plowed into a group of people protesting against the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12. Heather Heyer Way is now the honorary name for a part of Fourth Street between Market Street and Water Street.
“I’m proud of why she died,” said Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother. “I’m not proud that somebody killed her — but I’m proud that she was here doing what she could to show support for her fellow man, and that she stood with her friends.”
Heyer, a 32-year-old Charlottesville resident, worked as a paralegal at the Miller Law Group. Her former colleague and mentor at the law firm, Alfred Wilson, and her father, Mark Heyer, also spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony.
“We all here are doing what you called on us to do at the memorial service, which was to magnify Heather’s voice and not let the terrorists silence it,” Signer said to Bro.
On Aug. 12, a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters at the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street, injuring dozens and killing Heyer. Police arrested James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old man from Ohio, for the car attack — he now faces 10 felony charges, including first-degree murder.
The scene of the attack became the site of a community memorial until the street reopened in early September. Chalk writings were visible on the brick walls on buildings near the intersection Wednesday morning and messages such as “Love conquers all” served as a backdrop to the ceremony.
Since her daughter’s death, Bro co-founded the Heather Heyer Foundation with Wilson. The foundation will provide scholarships to students interested in social justice work.
“We get contacts from people all over the word, all over the country, saying, ‘Because of Heather, I now feel empowered to stand up. I now feel empowered to do the right thing,’” Bro said. “What other legacy could a mother ever want for her child?”