'The hurt is still here': community members say two years after deadly Unite the Right Rally

Charlottesville creates Unity Days to promote peace, unity

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

Charlottesville, Va. - Two years later, Aaliyah Jones finds it hard to stand in the alley where her friend Heather Heyer was killed.

"Bad memories of what happened. Not only to her, but to all of us. It really touches home," Jones said. 

Despite the pain, Jones and her boyfriend Kenny Winston believed it was right to come down and leave written notes for Heather. 

"Paying my respects back to her, giving her good wishes, best wishes. And know that we still hold a piece of her in our hearts," Winston said.

To help the community progress, Charlottesville leaders created Unity Days in February. It's an event to promote peace and unity throughout the community and to talk about racial and economic justice for its citizens. 

"By them coming up with Unity Day was a good idea. It brings community together as a whole. So I'm glad they did come up with Unity Day, and that helped a lot. But we still need some work," Jones said. 

On Monday near the Robert E. Lee statue, difference could still be seen throughout the city. 

10 News saw local police speaking with protestors who had signs saying, "Take Lee Down" and another with the word "idiot" and a pointing arrow. 

Some community members say two years later, they still see violence in their community, but the new program "Unity Days" is a start toward needed changes.

"You can move on, but the hurt is still there. You never get over nothing like this. Not a tragedy like this," Jones said. 

Local faith leaders held a memorial service for Heyer and others who fought for racial, economic and social justice. 

10 News reached out to Heyer's mother, Susan Bro. She's become a major advocate for change since her daughter's death. We asked if she wanted to do an interview, but she understandably declined, saying she's spending the day with her family. 

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