Heather Heyer's Mother Files Wrongful Death Suit Against White Supremacist Who Killed Her Daughter
|thenorthstar||Sep 10, 2019|
Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, is suing the white supremacist convicted of killing her daughter during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heyer was in a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into the crowd, killing her, on August 12, 2017.
Bro filed a $12 million wrongful death lawsuit against Fields on August 30 in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Fields was named as the only defendant, according to The Daily Progress. Bro says she is suing the convicted killer in an effort to send a powerful anti-hate message.
“We want to show others that there are serious consequences for actions of hatred and violence,” Bro told The Daily Progress.
“This lawsuit is a way to continue to extinguish hatred.”
On August 12, 2017, Fields intentionally rammed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally. In December 2018, Fields was convicted of state charges, including first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit and run.
In March, he pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal hate crime charges to avoid the death penalty. According to Salon, Fields admitted to mowing down the crowd of counter-protesters because of their perceived race, color, national origin, and religion.
Fields was sentenced in June to life in prison for committing 29 counts of federal hate crimes. He received a second life sentence from a Virginia court weeks later. The 22-year-old self-proclaimed neo-Nazi is now serving two consecutive life sentences plus 419 years for killing Heyer and injuring more than 30 others.
He faces several lawsuits filed by his other victims, who are seeking millions in damages.
During his June sentencing in federal court, US District Judge Michael Urbanski suggested he was in favor of ordering Fields to pay $2,900 for each of the 29 hate crimes he pleaded guilty to. However, because Fields has limited ability to make money in prison, the judge scheduled a hearing on September 26 to determine compensation, The Daily Progress reported.
Bro’s lawsuit is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. Bro, who is the administrator of her daughter’s estate, Heyer’s father, and her brother are listed as beneficiaries.
Bro said she is not interested in Fields’ “blood money,” but wants to prevent him from profiting off of the sale of the rights to his story or publishing a memoir.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Fields used social media to promote “his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples” and express his support for “the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust.”
The neo-Nazi “espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people, and members of other racial, ethnic and Religious groups he perceived to be non-white,” the DOJ said.
Since her daughter’s murder, Bro launched the Heather Heyer Foundation, which helps provide financial assistance for scholarships and supports social activism. The organization partnered up with a Charlottesville non-profit called The Sum to create the Heyer Voices program; an initiative that helps high school students promote change in their communities.
Bro has also been open about the support she continues to receive since Heyer’s death, and the fact that white privilege has played a part.
“Support poured in for me from around the world…That’s still coming in two years later,” she said in an interview for CBS News with historian Ibram X. Kendi. “I don’t know that Eric Garner’s family, Trayvon Martin’s family, I don’t know that any of those people are still getting that level of support.”
She added: “Why so much excitement? Why so much attention? It’s because she’s white.”
Bro told Kendi that the US has “a hate problem,” adding that this should be what people focus on, instead of her daughter. “That’s where the focus needs to be. Not on Heather. Not on her death. There were about 40 people injured in that car attack and everybody focuses on Heather,” Bro said.
In a 2017 interview with The Daily Beast, Bro said she was beginning to blame President Donald Trump for her daughter’s death. After the attack, Trump claimed there was “hate on both sides” of the protest.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.