August 13 had already turned into an ugly afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia after a rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee descended into violence. But the ugliness went to another level when one of the neo-Nazis on hand to protest the statue’s removal plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 19 people and killing one of them, Heather Heyer.
As it turned out, the ugliness was only beginning for Heyer and her family. Several posters from the notorious neo-Nazi site, The Daily Stormer, planned to crash her funeral. Fortunately, the funeral took place without major incident. But believe it or not, these bottom-feeders managed to do something far worse. How do you sink lower than crashing Heyer’s funeral? Quite easily, as it turns out–by continuing to victimize and terrorize her and her family even after she has been buried.
Heyer’s murderer, James Fields, was initially charged with second-degree murder. However, on Thursday, the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder. While second-degree murder carries a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, first-degree murder carries a minimum penalty of 20 years and a maximum of life. He could still get more than that. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already said that Fields’ attack meets the definition of domestic terrorism. If a federal investigation ultimately finds that it was indeed domestic terrorism, Fields could potentially be charged with capital murder–which carries a minimum of life in prison.
Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, was on hand for Fields’ appearance. Before going to court, she told The Daily Beast that Heyer’s ashes are buried in a secret and “completely protected” location. Why? She and her family have been bombarded with almost unabated death threats, leaving her with no choice but to bury Heyer in a spot that is only known to Heyer’s immediate family and close friends.
“It’s a symptom of hate in society that you should have to protect your child’s grave, for Pete’s sake. So, I’m protecting her now.”
According to Bro, the bottom-feeders have told her that Heyer “deserved to die,” and that she was killed by a CPR machine rather than Fields’ car. The police in her hometown a half-hour north of Charlottesville don’t have the manpower to protect Bro and her family in the event that any hate groups try to make good on their threats. A planned food drive in Heyer’s name got kiboshed because of security concerns.
Bro went further on Saturday afternoon in an interview with CNN’s Ana Cabrera while discussing the work of the foundation she set up in Heyer’s name. Watch here.
Bro said that some people think she’s being “paranoid” by keeping her daughter’s resting place secret. However, she believes she’s doing what any parent would do when faced with “the hostility of the alt-right and the KKK in these circumstances.” She said that the threats have died down somewhat, though the foundation gets hate mail “from time to time.”
Cabrera was dumbfounded that anyone would send Bro hate mail because of Heyer’s death. She’s not the only one. It’s bad enough that these bastards trashed Heyer as “an overweight slob” after one of their own murdered her. It was even worse when they bandied about crashing her funeral and bombarded Bro with death threats. But to continue to terrorize her family in this manner? That’s so damn obscene that there are no words to express how outrageous it is.
If there is any doubt that Donald Trump’s claim that “both sides” are responsible for what happened in Charlottesville is morally bankrupt, Bro’s ordeal should have erased it. Only one side murdered an innocent woman. And only one side is keeping her family from being able to mourn in peace.
Can you imagine what would have happened had anyone tried to crash Roger Ailes’ funeral, or bombard his family with death threats? Ailes may have been a pervert and a sleazeball, but his family still has the right to mourn. Regardless of his degrading and harassing behavior at Fox News, it would have been wrong and criminal to harass his family.
This is no different. It’s time for us to come together and demand that those responsible for continuing to victimize Heyer’s family be tracked down, prosecuted, and sent to prison. There is no place for this sort of behavior in any remotely civilized society.
When you get the chance, donate to the Heather Heyer Foundation here. You can also follow the foundation on Facebook and on Twitter.
(featured image: screenshot courtesy WTVR-TV)