Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when she was struck by a car driven by an alleged white nationalist when white nationalists and Antifa members clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August 12 at a Unite the Right rally, says that President Trump is to blame for her daughter’s death because he “pushes forward a hateful agenda.”
Interviewed by The Daily Beast, Bro said her daughter’s ashes are hidden in an unmarked, undisclosed, “completely protected” location because of extremists who have expressed threats of violence toward Bro and her family even four months after her daughter’s death.
She charged, “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 my child now.”
Asked by The Daily Beast if she held Trump responsible for her daughter’s death, Bro stated, “I’m starting to come to that conclusion because he definitely pushes forward a hateful agenda. There are family members that will possibly not have anything to do with me for saying so. Many family members are strong Trump supporters, and continue to be so despite everything they see.”
He responds off the cuff. He doesn’t bother to think before speaks, or very calculatedly is trying to manipulate all of us. I’m not sure which. I can grant there was a lot of violence on both sides, but to say there were good people on both sides—that’s where I draw the line. You can’t say there were good people coming into town with their fists taped prepared to draw blood and do harm. That’s not good people. Nazis: bad people. White supremacists: bad people. And I don’t see that you can call it any other way. If you choose to align yourself with those people, and you choose to call them “good,” then you’ve told me what sort of person you are. So now I have your number and now I know how I choose to respond to you. And in his case, that means: I’m not responding to you, you don’t get my time of day.
Bro noted that the White House had tried to contact her after her daughter’s death. Her reaction?
I thought, “Well, screw him, I’m not dealing with this.” I’m not talking to him. I have no need to go through this charade of pretending to be nice and happy. He is the president of the United States. That carries a certain weight and power with it. I choose not to poke the bear in power, but I’m definitely not happy with how he has chosen to drive forward with white supremacy and neo-Nazis. When someone misspeaks a time or two, it’s one thing, but when you continue to misspeak and continue to misspeak until there are falsehoods and false stories, and make thoughtless remarks, that to me looks like a planned, intentional hurt … his actions speak louder than his words. Look at the way he acted towards protesters at his rallies. He has definitely encouraged violence and hatred, and has made fun of people for race or disability, and then always tries to act like “Oh, I didn’t say anything.” As a teacher, I can tell you that the child in the classroom who continually tries to act out like that and says, “Oh, I didn’t say or do anything,” we held them responsible for their actions. I am seeing an upswell of those who are going to continue to hold this president responsible for his actions.
She added, “He disrespects everybody, Heather’s not special in that regard. He disrespects Native Americans, black people, history, everything. He has no respect for anybody. Having seen him pre- and since the election, it’s not surprising. He has never changed who he was. This man is not about respect. He never was, he never will be. It’s who he is.”
Bro also blamed police and local authorities, saying, “Well, things could have turned out differently had they responded differently. It’s not for me to figure out the whys and wherefores. But we know, according to the report, that all they put there was a school resource officer who definitely had a reason to fear for her safety. She wasn’t given protection. And then to simply leave one sawhorse to stop traffic …”
On Thursday, James Alex Fields Jr., who drove the car that struck Heyer, is scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing at Charlottesville Circuit Courthouse. He has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two charges of felonious assault and failure to stop that led to death. He had driven from Ohio to join others protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.
Asked if Fields bore any responsibility for Heyer’s death, Bro asserted:
Absolutely. Nobody made him do anything. I know he claims he felt threatened. The only time people were attacking his car was when he drove into a crowd, and people were attacking his car because he was driving over top of them. He was not under any attack until he drove into the crowd. Then he was having people beat on his car because he was killing people and injuring people.It was a pretty stupid move. He’s old enough to know better. My husband Kim looked at what he did, and said it reminded him of a video game, except in one of those you drive through people, and bodies fly everywhere with no consequence. I don’t know the kid, I’ve never met him. The first time I will see him will be in court this week. I will be going.
Asked if she felt white supremacy and hate killed her daughter, Bro responded:
Oh, of course. Of course. I mean she knew that was a possibility, but no one thinks they will be killed for standing up for their beliefs. She didn’t go there to be a martyr. This is part of my frustration with people, who either make her out to be a martyr in that she went there to die, or that she was a saint and angel and godly person. … Heather was a normal 32-year-old girl.
Bro concluded by saying that if she spoke to Trump she would tell him, “Think before you speak and speak only the truth, please.”