Remembrance, disputes with police mark Charlottesville rally anniversary

Four arrested; people pay respects to 2017 victims

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Police made arrests Sunday in Charlottesville as people demonstrated and paid respects to the victims of last year’s white nationalist rally.

During what was an overall quiet weekend for the one year anniversary of the violence, hundreds of law enforcement officers watched over the demonstrators and guarded a secure area around the site of last year’s car attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

In moments of commotion that broke the calm atmosphere of people spending time at Heyer’s memorial Sunday afternoon, a dispute with state police led to crowds to chant “shame” toward dozens of officers after they physically restrained and arrested a 29-year-old Maine woman, Chloe Lubin. She’s facing an assault and battery charge, among others, after police say she spat in someone else’s face.

Police brought in armored vehicles and more officers and blocked off the area for about an hour.

The arrest was one of four Sunday as hundreds of people peacefully demonstrated in Charlottesville’s downtown mall area and on University of Virginia grounds. Many students, locals and activists spread messages of peace, as well as anti-white supremacist and anti-police messages. One march Saturday included a group that identified itself as anti-fascist, also known as Antifa.

Students marched from various points around the city toward 4th Street, also named Heather Heyer Way, multiple times throughout the weekend. Officers followed the demonstrators, at times providing police escorts.

Organizers held prayer services and vigils at many sites around the city as well. Many people also honored the deaths of two state police troopers, whose helicopter crashed during last year’s rally: Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates.

At the memorial, people wrote messages of love and support in chalk. One said, “love wins.” People also added to the many flowers and other items around the memorial.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, visited the site Sunday afternoon around the time her daughter was killed last year. She placed new flowers at the memorial.

Bro said the community needs to keep healing.

“The movement has been going on for years. This was just a moment on the screen of the fight for racial justice in Charlottesville,” she said to the crowd of people gathered to hear her speak.

Dozens people visited the site in support of the family members and friends who came to grieve. Bro, and others organizing many of this weekend’s events, said they appreciate the support, including Alfred Wilson, the director of the Heather Heyer Foundation.

“The fact that individuals are still talking, the fact that individuals are at least communicating, that lets me know that her memory is actually staying alive and it is going to be a positive impact on our community,” he said.

Many people close to Heyer said the key messages to spread this weekend are those opposing ideas of white supremacy.

“I think the people of Charlottesville have proven that we want to dismantle white supremacy and people are determined to stand here,” Charlottesville resident Susan Minasian said.

Police outnumbered citizens around two to one at each location of activity during the weekend. Many demonstrators felt people marching needed to make more of an effort to stay peaceful.

“I love the fact that people are trying to make a non-violent protest and still trying to keep the message alive that we need to unite together, but I would ask that everyone please remain calm,” Wilson said.

Lynchburg resident Gary Taylor disagrees with the anti-police views many demonstrators were voicing.

“I don't understand how they can be saying anything negative against the police. Now it's a protest against the police? That's sad,” he said.

There were no reports during the anniversary weekend of anyone demonstrating who self-identified as a white supremacist.

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