Heather Heyer was just 32 years-old but she was far wiser and caring about American values than the 71-year-old President of the United States, Donald Trump. Heyer felt so strongly that America was a country dedicated to the principal that “all men are created equal” that she made sure that she part of the counter protest to the vicious gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Klu Klux Klan, organized for Saturday, Aug. 12.
The rally had been organized to protest the planned removal of the statue of confederate general, Robert E. Lee, from a park in Charlottesville. High school students in the city had petitioned for the statue — which they considered as an “offensive” monument to Confederate slavery — be removed. The statue’s removal is currently held up by a court case. Heyer was determined to show the white supremacists that their messages of hate were wrong.
“We were just marching around, spreading love — and then the accident happened,” a friend of hers, Marissa Blair, told the New York Times. “In a split second you see a car, and you see bodies flying. Heather was such a sweet soul and she did not deserve to die.”
No she did not. A young woman standing up against discrimination and inequality didn’t deserve to be plowed down allegedly by Alex Fields Jr., 20, who rammed his car into a narrow street filled with counter protesters like Heather. Fields, who reportedly has a fondness for Nazis and Adolf Hitler, has now been charged with second-degree murder after police said he smashed his car into Heather and others, injuring another 19, some of them critically.
That’s what happened when hate tried to erase love. Now, Heather is being honored by thousands of Americans, including her heartbroken parents and friends. But, it took a full two days of overwhelming public pressure for Donald Trump to acknowledge her by name and to finally disavow racism, the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Until this afternoon, Trump had tried to spread the blame for the deadly violence, which included a white supremacist march with lit torches, reminiscent of a KKK lynching, among the racists AND the protesters.
On the day of Heather’s death he denounced the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he then repeated the phrase, “on many sides.” This, despite the fact that the violence, injuries and deaths were instigated by one side – the white supremacists – and Trump refused to call them out. The person who is supposed to be the moral leader for the country refused to stand up for the American values that Heather sacrificed her life for. Trump’s silence spoke volumes, especially to the white supremacists who flocked to Charlottesville and who are terrifying to most Americans.
The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, celebrated Trump’s Saturday remarks, posting on their live blog: “Trump’s comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.” Meanwhile, David Duke, the ex-leader of the KKK, spoke out at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally: “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump…”
Despite all of this, the president didn’t specificall denounce the hate groups until this afternoon’s press conference and only after he spent time talking up his “accomplishments” on the economy. At last, he said the words: Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.” And at last, we spoke Heather Heyer’s name: “Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed. Her death fills us with grief and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers and our love.”
Yes, we do.
Now, can Donald Trump find the courage that this quietly heroic young woman had, to actually continue to denounce racism and fight to end inequality and injustice? Let’s see.
HollywoodLifers, send your thoughts and prayers to Heather Heyer in the comments below.