CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — Monday marks two years since the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In a step towards healing, the city is celebrating Unity Days, which are a variety of events that aim to educate and honor people in the community in order to move towards economic and racial justice. The events focus on the theme of unity and include faith-based gatherings, musical performances, candlelight vigils, and exhibits.
On Aug. 12, 2017, the city of Charlottesville changed forever. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists traveled to the city to incite violence over a Confederate statue.
James Fields Jr. — who was convicted for federal hate crimes and murder — mowed down a group of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.
Two Virginia State Police troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen III and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, also died that day in a helicopter crash responding to the rally.
Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, said on social media that she will be spending this year’s anniversary with close family and friends.
Don Gathers, a social justice activist, told CBS19 that although the city has come far, there is still a very long way to go.
“There’s a huge racial rift in the community that people don’t want to embrace or understand that exists. It exists and it manifests itself in so many different ways.”
Gathers says he wants people to stay vigilant and not grow complacent with where we are in society.
“Because it happened that one time, it most certainly could happen again,” Gathers said. “The fear is that we are not past this yet. We still have many issues to deal with that are race-based and race-related.”
He believes prayer, voting, and conversation will lead to the city moving past racial issues.
An interfaith service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church on West Main Street in Charlottesville.