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Heather Heyer Memorial: She ‘Wanted to Put Down Hate,’ Father Says

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Heather Heyer’s public memorial service began with a testament of her character: She was, a family friend said, “a young woman who lost her life defending the rights of others.”

“I would like for us to carry her legacy on by doing the same thing: Respecting the rights of everyone,” Kathy Brinkley said about the 32-year-old killed Saturday when a car hit her and other counterprotesters who opposed a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Relatives, friends and dignitaries, including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and US Sen. Tim Kaine, were among those who gathered Wednesday in Charlottesville’s roughly 1,000-seat Paramount Theater.

Heather’s father, Mark Heyer, choked up as he spoke of his daughter.

“She wanted equality, and in this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate,” Heyer said. “And for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other. I think that’s what the Lord would want us to do.”

The racial diversity of those in the auditorium, he said, reflected Heather’s embrace of people of all colors.

“It didn’t matter who you were or where you from,” Mark Heyer said. “If she loved you, that was it — you were stuck. For that, I’m truly proud of my daughter.”

Many wore purple — a color she loved.

“Purple is a symbol of openness — It basically lets other people know, ‘I’m willing to work with you.’ That’s something that Heather was,” friend Alfred Wilson told CNN’s “New Day” before the gathering.

“She was a person that was willing to work with anyone,” Wilson, wearing a suit and a purple bow tie, said. “She was a very kind, generous person, and someone that actually was very opinionated and spoke up for what she believed was right.”

Friend: She was afraid protesters would be violent

Heyer, a paralegal at the Charlottesville-based Miller Law Group, had told co-workers Friday that she was going to be among the counterprotesters rallying against the “Unite the Right” groups.

She was nervous about going, but felt she needed to be among the counterprotesters to stand up what she believed in, her co-worker and friend Victoria Jackson told CNN.

One of the last conversations they had before each left for the weekend was about the rally.

“Heather said, ‘I want to go so badly but I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to die,’ ” Jackson remembered Heyer saying.

Heyer was afraid of the protesters because she believed they were not here for peace, her co-worker said.

Jackson held back tears as she talked about her friend, whose work station is now surrounded by flowers and messages from clients and friends. The scent of roses filled the air.

On her work desk are purple sticky notes, purple cover sheets and a pair of plastic purple hands in a thumbs-up position that used to hold her cellphone in place.

Each employee at the law firm received a pen Tuesday with a note that read: “Although her desk sits empty today, we will never forget how much she impacted our lives. Her presence will forever be remembered.”