A year after James Alex Fields Jr. intentionally slammed a vehicle into a crowd protesting the racist “Unite the Right” demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, many people turned to the streets and social media this weekend to remember Heyer and denounce racism ahead of a white supremacist anniversary rally near the White House.
A group that included Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, gathered at a memorial in Charlottesville on Sunday:
Journalist and activist Shaun King—a leading force behind an effort to track down and hold accountable the group of “Unite the Right” participants who brutally beat a black counter-protester last year—tweeted:
Progressive politicians and candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and New York gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon also turned to Twitter to honor Heyer and celebrate the fight against racism:
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Several other progressive and political groups shared similar messages:
Tributes to Heyer on Sunday came as anti-racist protesters gathered in Washington, D.C. to counter an event spearheaded by Jason Kessler, the man behind last year’s violent white supremacist demonstrations. After Charlottesville blocked Kessler and fellow organizers from hosting an anniversary event in the city, they secured approval from federal officials to hold a rally near the White House.
The Washington Post reports that Kessler “received final approval Thursday from the National Park Service for up to 400 participants at Lafayette Square for an event dubbed ‘Unite the Right 2.'” The newspaper noted that “in addition to Kessler, also planning to attend the white supremacist rally, according to documents obtained by Washington City Paper from the National Park Service, are David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and several neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.”
Meanwhile, in Charlottesville on Saturday, anti-racist protesters and students hosted demonstrations that were met with a massive police presence. That contrast to last year, when local law enforcement failed to prevent violence by the white supremacists who invaded the city, was a source of frustration among this year’s peaceful protesters, as Reuters reports:
Participants and reporters shared photos on social media from Saturday’s Charlottesville events and a local memorial honoring Heyer: