Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, testified Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about white supremacist violence.
Heyer was killed on Aug. 12, 2017, when James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the Unite the Right rally in downtown Charlottesville.
The hearing, according to the committee website, was organized to “examine the [Trump] administration’s efforts to collect accurate statistics on and combat white supremacist hate crimes and domestic terror,” as well as to “discuss the impact on the communities most victimized and targeted by white supremacists.”
Bro, of Greene County, primarily used her time during the roughly two-hour hearing to advocate for better analysis of hate crimes and a stronger approach to combating racist violence.
“We have to do a better job of reporting hate crime,” she said, “but we also have to do a better job of preventing hate crime. We have to find a way to reach these young people before they become radicalized.”
The FBI’s 2017 hate crime report did not include Heyer’s death or any of the injuries caused by Fields; only one later incident, a “simple assault,” was reported in Charlottesville.
“I would like it, as part of the record, stated that Heather was killed primarily because Mr. Fields was aiming to kill someone who he thought was black,” Bro testified. “He drove into a crowd to kill people [who were there] in support of Black Lives Matter.”
In her prepared testimony, Bro said it was “imperative” that Congress address underreporting of hate crime through legislation and that doing so would be a “unifying first step.”
“What I would ask of the FBI is, why?” she asked. “What is your reason for what has been termed a lackadaisical attitude? Why are you not fulfilling that dream of being that gold standard? Why are you allowing your edges to become tattered?”
Bro also frequently stressed that anti-racism efforts should not focus on her or her daughter.
“I have been given a huge platform … because I’m white, and many black parents lose their children, many Muslim parents lose their children, Jewish parents lose their children, and nobody pays attention. And because we have this myth of the sacredness of the white female, I’ve been given a platform, so I’m going to use that platform to keep drawing attention back to where the issues are.”