Protest victim 'had strong sense of social justice'

Ms Heather Heyer lost her life when an Ohio man drove his car into counter- protesters last Saturday.
Ms Heather Heyer lost her life when an Ohio man drove his car into counter-protesters last Saturday.

CHARLOTTESVILLE (Virginia) • Ms Heather Heyer went to downtown Charlottesville with her friends to make a stand against white nationalists who converged on the Virginia college town to demand that the city keep a statue honouring a Confederate war hero.

The 32-year-old paralegal wanted to send a clear message to the neo- Nazis and Ku Klux Klan sympathisers who planned to stage one of the largest far-right rallies in recent US history that people abhor their views in the city where she was born.

But her decision to join counter-protesters last Saturday resulted in tragedy when a 20-year-old Ohio man drove his car at high speed into a line of marchers, killing Ms Heyer and injuring at least 19 others.

A strong sense of social justice was a constant theme in Ms Heyer's personal and working life, said Mr Alfred Wilson, her boss and bankruptcy division manager of the Miller Law Group.

"There have been times that I have walked back to her office and she had tears in her eyes" for various injustices she saw in the world, he said, such as the time she was weeping after reading anti-Muslim comments online. The two have worked closely since she joined the firm a little over five years ago.

Ms Heyer was a supporter of Mr Bernie Sanders, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination won by Mrs Hillary Clinton, Mr Wilson said.

Ms Heyer was strongly opposed to Republican President Donald Trump, said Mr Wilson, and she also spoke out against blogger Jason Kessler, who organised the "Unite the Right" rally.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Protest victim 'had strong sense of social justice''. Print Edition | Subscribe