SHARPES, Fla. – Mark Heyer, the father of the 32-year-old woman killed in the Charlottesville counter-protest against white nationalists, stood in front of his home in Sharpes on Monday, sharing thoughts about his daughter’s activism while offering to forgive the man charged with her death.
Heyer made the comments to News 6 partner Florida Today on Monday as community organizers, political leaders and others nationwide continued to condemn the events leading to Heather Heyer’s death.
Monday afternoon, President Trump called the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups "repugnant," and called for national healing. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also tweeted over the weekend a special message of condolence for Heather Heyer's family.
"Heather sacrificed her life in the fight for social and racial justice. She will not be forgotten," Sen. Bernie Sanders, for whom Heather Heyer offered support to on her Facebook page last year, said.
Her father, who lives in Sharpes, a town sandwiched between Cocoa and the Port St. John area, said his daughter fervently believed in the rights of others. He also said that he was proud of her for taking a stand to help others and called on people to "stop the hate."
"She was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone and she tried to stand up for that," Heyer said, adding that he was still in shock over his daughter’s death. "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."
Charlottesville authorities said counter-protesters were struck after a car plowed into the crowd, injuring several people. Throughout the morning, there were violent clashes between some of the counter-protesters in the crowd and members of the white nationalist group that gathered in the small college town. The protests began Friday night as the groups -- also described as members of the "alt-right" movement -- carried guns and lit torches while marching into the Virginia town for a rally.
Heyer was notified about his daughter's death on Saturday. He said that his daughter’s activism was a part of her life.
“With her, it wasn’t lip service, it was real, you know. It was something that she wanted to share with everyone,” Heyer said.
Heyer said his thought about the events of Charlotesville is that people on all sides need to learn to forgive each other.
"I include myself in that in forgiving the guy who did this. I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, 'Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing,'" Heyer said.