Heyer was killed while peacefully protesting against a white nationalists’ Unite the Right rally
Former US vice president Mike Pence provoked anger on Tuesday for visiting the memorial of Heather Heyer, a Charlottesville native killed by White supremacists in 2017 while participating in an anti-racism demonstration.
His aide Marc Short told CBS News that the former vice president “took a moment today to go down and visit the mall where Heather Heyer was slain, and to sign the wall, where [there is] a public plaque in honour of her life and memory.”
Mr Pence’s visit to the memorial was however, not well-received owing to his earlier stance, when he failed to condemn then-president Donald Trump for suggesting that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups did not deserve complete responsibility for the Charlottesville violence.
Heyer was killed while peacefully protesting against the white nationalists’ Unite the Right rally, when self-avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr deliberately drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascism protesters. In 2019, he was convicted of federal hate crime charges and was sentenced to life in prison.
Mr Trump insisted there were “some very fine people” and some “bad” people on both sides in Charlottesville, drawing swift backlash and raising questions as to how his administration will be viewed over race relations.
At that time, Mr Pence declined to distance himself from Mr Trump’s controversial stance. “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words,” Mr Pence had said.
“And we’re also praying that in America, we will not allow the few to divide the many,” Mr Pence had added in 2017. “The strength of the United States of America is always strongest as the president has said so eloquently when we are united around our shared values.”
Slamming him for backing his boss at the time, a social media user wrote: “Cowardly weasel. Your silence about those ‘very fine people’ murders says everything.”
“I remember how Mike Pence didn’t say ****all when Heather Heyer was murdered by one of the ‘good people on both sides’,” wrote another user. “Not one f***ing word.”
“Not exactly a profile in courage nearly five years after she was killed by one of the ‘very fine people’ on the Nazi-slash-Confederate side,” wrote political commentator Bob Cesca.