The mother of Heather Heyer, who died last year when a white nationalist slammed his car into counter-protesters in Charlottesville, has urged people to stay peaceful as Washington DC readies itself for Unite the Right 2.
Susan Bo told counter-protesters to make sure they stay safe at Sunday’s event. ‘No place for hate. Don’t respond to the violence if you can protect yourself without it and do not let your guard down,’ she told CBS News.
‘What I’ve learnt is a lethal form of attack will happen when everyone is relaxed, so be careful.’
Susan Bo (left, in Charlottesville on Friday) told counter-protesters to make sure they stay safe at Sunday’s Unite the Right 2 event in Washington. Pictured right: Heather Heyer
Unite the Right 2 will take place Sunday afternoon in Lafayette Park in front of the White House and mark the one year anniversary of Charlottesville.
Estimates vary on how many white nationalist protesters will show up.
Jason Kessler, who also organized last year’s event, predicted 400 in his permit application, but turnout could be much lower.
Bro said the event had sparked painful memories of her daughter’s death, which has led to murder charges against the alleged driver of the car, James Fields.
‘As long as I’m working, I’m not thinking too much or feeling too much,’ Bro said. ‘But I have to be honest that the weight of it is getting to me today and tomorrow.’
She urged Americans to have ‘painful conversations’ about race to help heal ‘deep-seated wounds’.
‘If you rush to heal, if you rush to everybody grab each other and sing kumbaya, we will be back here in a few years,’ she said.
White nationalists, neo-Nazis, KKK members, and the alt-right attacked each other as counter protesters intervened outside Emancipation Park in Charlottesville last year on August 12
Bro speaks with reporters on Friday at the spot where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville on August 12
President Trump was criticized for his response to Charlottesville after he appeared to condone the white nationalists by saying there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the rally.
But in the build-up to this year’s protest he chose to condemn ‘all types of racism’ and urged unity.
‘The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation,’ he wrote on Saturday morning. ‘I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!’
Heyer’s mother called the message, ‘A good tweet’.
The white nationalist movement has partially splintered in the past year, with some blaming Kessler for the bad press generated by Charlottesville.
Several white nationalist leaders have disavowed Sunday’s rally and asked their followers not to attend.
Rally participants are likely to be outnumbered by passionate counter-protesters. At least two separate anti-white nationalist rallies will also be taking place in Lafayette Park.
Last year’s rally on August 12 saw rally-goers carry flaming torches (pictured) and clash with counter-protesters
The local chapter of Black Lives Matter is also planning a separate march to the site.
With Charlottesville police widely criticized for their handling of last year’s rally, D.C. authorities are vowing to prevent violence.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham have promised a massive security mobilization to keep protesters and counter-protesters apart.
‘We have a number of techniques to keep them separate,’ Newsham said. ‘We’re accustomed to protests in Washington and the rules are pretty simple: don’t hurt anyone and don’t break anything.’
While the White House will be the backdrop of the rallies, President Donald Trump will not be in town.
A anti-fascist protest in Charlottesville on Saturday passed off with little trouble.