United States Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) released statements to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017 that claimed the lives of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and Virginia State Police Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, III and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.
Mark Warner’s statement was as follows:
“Today we remember the lives lost following the deadly rally that occurred a year ago in Charlottesville, when a group of white nationalists came to a peaceful Virginia town seeking to use hate and division to incite violence against fair-minded, innocent civilians. Their words and their actions betrayed President Lincoln’s appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature,’ forcing us to confront some of the demons that still plague our society today. These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a president who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn their message and actions in clear terms.
“Let us take a moment today to celebrate and honor the lives of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates. As we honor their memories, we must also continue to heal the racial wounds of our past. We must show that what sets us apart as citizens of this country are our values of respect, openness, and tolerance towards one another. Without that, we cannot fulfill the promise of a more perfect union.”
Tim Kaine’s statement was as follows:
“A year ago, white supremacists and neo-Nazis from all over the country gathered in Charlottesville to spew hateful rhetoric and bigotry. The violence and chaos that erupted from the Unite the Right rally resulted in the murder of a peaceful protester and paralegal Heather Heyer, the tragic deaths of two Virginia State troopers I knew, Berke Bates and Jay Cullen, and injury to many peaceful protestors.
“Out of this horrible tragedy, we’ve seen a community that was able to come together to say this is not who we are. I am heartened by people who have stood up in Charlottesville and around Virginia this year, driven to engage in peaceful activism out of concern, compassion, and care. Virginia knows hate and division from its past, and we’ve spoken out to say we will not be dragged backwards.
“We’ve been on an arc toward a better future, but we have more work ahead. As a country we have to commit to ending institutional inequality in housing, education, criminal justice, and access to voting. We have to stand up against hate, wherever we see it. And we need to respond to the shocking display of bigotry that we witnessed in Charlottesville by redoubling our commitment to equality.”
In advance of the rally’s one-year anniversary, the City of Charlottesville and Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to address the potential impacts of events in and around Charlottesville and Washington, D.C.
On August 12, 2017, one person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled to take place.
James Alex Fields, Jr., suspected of driving that speeding car, pleaded not guilty to 30 counts, including a hate crime resulting in death and bodily injury, and racially motivated violent interference with “federally protected activity.” He faces the death penalty on one of the federal charges.