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Advocates push hate crime bill in honor of Heather Heyer

In 2017, the Charlottesville, Virginia community mourned the loss of 32-year-old Heather Heyer,...
In 2017, the Charlottesville, Virginia community mourned the loss of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a peaceful counter-protester to the racist Unite the Right rally. A self-proclaimed white supremacist murdered her and injured dozens of others by ramming his car into a crowd. (Source: CNN)(GRAYDC)
Published: Aug. 9, 2019 at 5:49 PM EDT
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Two years ago in Charlottesville, self-avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of demonstrators who were peacefully protesting against the white nationalist 'Unite the Right' rally. Fields took the life of Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others in the attack.

Earlier this summer, Fields was

on federal hate crime charges, as well as a

.

Washington Correspondent Alana Austin spoke with lawmakers about efforts to stop such hate crimes, which can terrorize other communities far and wide.

Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and now, El Paso — Each community has coped with the grief of murderous hate crimes.

Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, now

. The Heather Heyer Foundation is dedicated to advocating for equality issues.

"Having the foundation gives me a purpose and something to do with my anger and my grief..to honor what she stood for," said Bro.

In 2017, 7,175 hate crime incidents were documented. But Virginia Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine say many attacks never get reported the FBI, so they introduced the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer No Hate Act to enhance training and resources for local law enforcement.

"I hope my colleagues will take up this legislation, to make sure that we give again law enforcement the tools they need," said Warner.

Hate crimes legal expert Fred Lawrence supports the bill. He says these types of crimes are especially destructive because they don't just hurt the victim, but inject fear and isolation into entire communities.

"We are knit together with all of these different ethnic groups, all of these different racial groups, religious groups, etc. But there are lines that exist between those groups, and when a hate crime happens, we split along that line," explained Lawrence.

The Senate bill right now only has Democratic lawmakers on board. The House version does have some Republican support.

Warner issued the following statement on the 2-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally:

“Nearly two years ago, white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to spread a message of bigotry and intolerance. Their hate-fueled rally culminated in the deaths of three Americans – Heather Heyer, who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd of counter-protesters, and Lt. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, who died in a helicopter crash as they tried to bring stability to the city. “As we approach the two-year mark of this tragedy, I stand with the families of those we lost as well as the entire Charlottesville community in denouncing bigotry and radicalism in every form. With hate crimes and white nationalism on the rise, we must work to honor these individuals today and every day by stamping out the voices of hate and prejudice – from those on the streets, to those in positions of power – that undermine the nation we love and the values we believe in. Let us also take a moment to remember and celebrate the lives of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates by fostering a culture of acceptance and open-mindedness.”
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