Charlottesville victim was 'strong-minded,' cared for others

By Allen Cone
A GoFundMe account raised $225,00 to support the family of Heather Heyer, 32.. Photo courtesy GoFundMe
A GoFundMe account raised $225,00 to support the family of Heather Heyer, 32.. Photo courtesy GoFundMe

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Friends and family say Heather Heyer was someone who stood up for others.

One of thousands in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, she died when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters opposing a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups.


Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, told NBC News, "she was there with her friends, and she was trying to simply cross the street as the movement was breaking up that day.

"She was plowed down by a young man who was intent on spreading hate and thought hate would fix the world."

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Heyer stood firm in her principles, her mother said.

"I always encouraged her to be strong and strong-minded -- even though that wasn't always easy to raise -- but I was always proud of what she was doing. She was a fun-loving person and tenderhearted person but at times she could be tough as nails, too."


Heather's father, Mark Heyer, told CNN that "she was always passionate about the beliefs she held. She had a bigger backbone than I did."

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And, he said, "she died trying to bring about that purpose."

Heyer worked as a paralegal in Charlottesville for five years, assisting people through the bankruptcy filing process.

"Heather was a very strong woman," said Alfred A. Wilson, manager of the bankruptcy division at the Miller Law Group, told The New York Times. "]She stood up against] any type of discrimination. That's just how she's always been."

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Wilson said he sometimes found her at her computer crying.

"[She would see] something on Facebook or read something in the news and realized someone has been mistreated and gets upset," he said.

Wilson hired Heyer on a friend's recommendation even though she didn't attend college or have a background in law. She'd been a bartender and waitress, and she was "a people person," he said.

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Heyer moved to Charlottesville after growing up in nearby nearby Ruckersville, Va., according to the law firm's website.

Friend Marissa Blair said she was at Saturday's rally with her fiance Marcus Martin and Heyer, in a show of support for diversity.


"We were against hate, that's what we were against," Blair told CNN.

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Blair said Martin pushed her out of the way when he saw the car coming, and broke his leg. He returned to the scene in a wheelchair Sunday night for a vigil for Heather.

"She spoke for people even if they didn't want speak for themselves," she said. "Words can't describe Heather, I will never find another friend like Heather."

Blair said Heyer supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign -- and was no fan of President Donald Trump.

"Heather would not want his condolences," Blair said. "She would not want him to speak her name."

Blair criticized Trump for not denouncing the white supremacists who organized a rally earlier this year, protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.

Her final Facebook post was Nov. 19, 11 days after the election.

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," she wrote.

Heyer lived with her Chihuahua, Violet -- named after her favorite color.

A GoFundMe account created to support Heyer's family raised $225,000.


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