The woman killed at the “Unite the Right” protest yesterday has been identified as Heather Heyer. The 32-year-old was a paralegal. A Dodge Charger driven by James Alex Fields Jr rammed into a group of counter protestors. Heyer had been crossing the street and was hit. She was taken to the hospital, but was declared dead.
The incident in Chalottesville, Virginia proved the city’s expectations of violent conflict were warranted. As protests erupted Friday evening, many talked of the potential for conflict. The protestors who had gathered to voice their opposition of the removal of Confederate memorials in the city came armed and ready for a fight.
Yet most of the altercations were verbal. On Saturday, there were numerous fist-fights, and both sides were throwing bottles and bricks. Yet it was Fields, a 20-year-old, who willfully drove into the crowd of protestors, killing Heyer and wounding many others. Police have said his act was deliberate and premeditated.
Charlottesville police chief says violence was "premeditated," suspect is in custody https://t.co/rtTBkVpHdc
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 12, 2017
The press release from the city of Charlottesville said Heyer “was struck down by a vehicle while exercising her peaceful First Amendment right to speech. This senseless act of violence rips a hole in our collective hearts.”
— Charlottesville City (@CvilleCityHall) August 13, 2017
Many of the media accounts, including that from Fox, have characterized Heyer as a counter-protestor, one standing in opposition to the racism and vitriol of the white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Yet The New York Daily News writes that Heyer may have been with the white nationalists, though that seems to be a stretch.
My heart goes out to Heather Heyer's family. She died standing up against hate & bigotry. Her bravery should inspire all to come together. pic.twitter.com/1Zbi2D2Vgq
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 13, 2017
She is being held up by others as a victim of the violence of the white nationalists. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted that Heyer “died standing up against hate & bigotry.”
“For over four years Heather has played an essential role in our bankruptcy department and office as a whole,” the law group’s page reads.
“She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her,” Felicia Correa a friend speaking for the family told reporters.