The 32-year-old woman killed during the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend has quickly become a symbol of hope and resistance in the fight against white supremacy in America. Her memorial service on Wednesday morning drew crowds of hundreds, including one man who decided to honor her life through art. A memorial mural for Heather Heyer is honoring her life through art, which may be one of the most powerful way to remember her legacy.
According to Washington Post reporter Ellie Silverman, the mural is by Sam Welty, a Virginia muralist who has had art displayed at several famous sites around the state. Silverman reported that Welty showed up at 5:30 a.m. to create the mural on the city's Freedom of Speech Wall, right across from Charlottesville City Hall and just a few blocks down the road from where Heyer's memorial service was held.
Heyer was killed over the weekend while attending the counter-protests in response to a white supremacist rally in downtown Charlottesville. One of the white supremacists attending the rally drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring over a dozen others.
The suspect in Heyer's death is now in custody and has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death, according to CNN.
A native Virginian who grew up half an hour away from where she died, Heyer's family described her as "an outspoken, outgoing, determined and passionate individual and had a special regard for social injustices and especially those concerning race relations." It's part of the reason her death has been so affecting for many — millions of people across the country have been committing in earnest to public political activism, and Heyer's death represents the danger inherent in that activism. But that shocking dose of reality seems to have only spurred people to continue showing up to rallies all over the United States and honoring Heyer's legacy.
Heyer's mother Susan Bro told The Huffington Post that she wants an enduring legacy for her daughter, and though Heyer's mural may be temporary, it shows how deeply her death has impacted people. "I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion," Bro said in an interview this weekend. Although the mural probably won't stay for long since the chalkboard wall is constantly being written and drawn on, it's clear that Heyer's death has had the impact that Bro wanted, at least in some ways.