Charlottesville Victim’s Dad Forgives Her Killer, Because “People Need To Stop Hating"

by Lilli Petersen
Scott Olson/Getty Images

We all hope that we will never have to go through what the family of Heather Heyer is dealing with now. Heyer, 32, was the lone death in a day of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12, when a man drove a car through a crowd at a white supremacist rally. Since she was identified, her family and friends have spoken in her honor, with her mother saying via a family friend that she was heartbroken but “forever proud” of her daughter. And on Aug. 14, the father of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer forgave her killer, saying that “people need to stop hating.”

In a video shared to Twitter by The Asbury Park Press, Mark Heyer spoke about his daughter Heather. “My daughter was a strong woman that had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone. And she tried to stand up for that,” he said. “And with her, it wasn't lip service. It was real.”

But most powerfully of all, Heyer said that he forgave his daughter's killer, in order to break the cycle of hate. He said,

It was something that she wanted to share with everyone. And my thoughts about all of this stuff is that people need to stop hating. And they need to forgive each other. And I include myself in that, in forgiving the guy that did this. He don't know better. I just think of what the Lord said on the cross, “Lord, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing.”

Heather Heyer was killed on Aug. 12, when a man who had attended the "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA drove a car into a crowd of protesters. More than a dozen others were injured. The man has since been charged with second-degree murder, per The Independent.

Heyer said that how he was proud of his daughter, and that she had stood for her convictions. He hoped that something positive came from his family's tragedy:

I hope all of this stuff that's come out isn't twisted into something negative, but there comes a positive change in peoples hearts, in their thinking, in their understanding of their neighbor. We just need to forgive each other. And I hope that's what comes out of all this.

It's a message that's powerful, emotional, and impossibly generous: the wish that his family's own tragedy should hopefully be used to make the world a better place. The generosity of spirit in forgiving the person whose actions killed a loved one is overwhelming. It's a poignant legacy.

Our thoughts and condolences go to the Heyer family for their loss.