On Saturday a car crashed into a group of anti-racist activists who were protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. 32-year-old Heather Heyer was tragically killed from the impact of the car and 19 others were injured. On Wednesday, as family and loved ones gathered in Charlottesville for her memorial service at 11 a.m., a huge crowd turned out at The Paramount Theater hours before it began --since the service was open to the public. For those who arrived after the venue reached its capacity, or those from other parts of the country who want to watch Heyer's funeral you can live-stream the event online either through the Paramount Theater website, or through NBC29.com.
Following her death, Heyer's father - Mark Heyer told Florida Today how important activism always was to his daughter. "She was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone, and she tried to stand up for that. With her, it wasn’t lip service. It was real, you know. It was something that she wanted to share with everyone. She had more courage than I did. She had a stubborn backbone that if she thought she was right, she would stand there and defy you. If I understand her, she would want to do it peacefully," said Heyer's father.
Heyer worked as a paralegal at The Miller Law Group in Charlottesville, and was described by friends and family as an empathetic woman who consistently used her voice to support and defend the rights of marginalized communities.
Her coworker, Alfred A. Wilson, the manager of the bankruptcy division, told The New York Times that Heyer stood up to "any type of discrimination" stating "that's just how she's always been."
"I always encouraged her to be strong and strong-minded — even though that wasn't always easy to raise — but I was always proud of what she was doing," Heyer's mother, Susan Bro told NBC News. "She was a fun-loving person and tenderhearted person. But at times she could be tough as nails, too."
Heyer's friend and coworker Marissa Blair was there with her when the neo-Nazi James Fields crashed into the group of counter-protesters with his car. "She would never back down from what she believed in,” Blair told hosts on CNN's New Day, “That's what she died doing, fighting for what she believed in. I will never find another friend like Heather. So many people are doing vigils for Heather and they didn't even know her."
Heyer's last Facebook post fittingly said "If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention." Hopefully, her tragic and unnecessary death will wake more people up to the racist violence all around us.