It has been two years since deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

Unity Days events hope to create positive movement from tragedy

By Taj Simmons - Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Charlottesville commemorated a tragic anniversary during the weekend.

It has been two years since the Unite The Right white supremacist rally took over the city and ultimately ended with counterprotester Heather Heyer dying when a white supremacist ran her down with his car.

"For all of us, it's a really somber day on the calendar," said Cameron Webb, a professor at the University of Virginia's School of Medicine who witnessed the rally.

The street where Heyer died was blocked off to traffic and became a memorial to her with messages written in chalk.

"She had the courage to come down here in the midst of all of the chaos and stand her ground, and I honor her for that," said Darlene Sullivan, who visited Charlottesville from northern Virginia and wrote a message on Heyer's memorial. "We have to continue to stand up just like Heather did and not let these folks that have evil in their heart prevail."

In response to the tragedy, Charlottesville community leaders organized Unity Days, a series of events through the weekend highlighting the good in Charlottesville.

"It's about getting past the images of the car attack, getting past the images of the banners and torches and seeing a community that can come together and actually start to address its issues," said Brad Slocumb, who helped organize Unity Days."This showed the glazing over of long-standing issues wasn't going to work anymore."

Sunday's event showcasing different community groups took place in Market Street Park, which contains the Robert E. Lee statue that initially attracted the white supremacist rally to Charlottesville. Some attendees said the statue serves as a reminder of what happened two years ago.

"Every time I look at the statue to my left, I feel the pain of that moment," said Webb. "You remember the sacrifice. You remember Heather Heyer's death. This is stuff that is still painful."

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