Charlottesville dedicates street to honor Heather Heyer

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Heather Heyer, the woman killed after the violent Unite the Right Rally on Aug. 12, has a street named in her honor in downtown Charlottesville.

Fourth Street North East, between East Market and East Water streets, was officially declared Honorary Heather Heyer Way on Wednesday morning.

"It's always hard for me to come to this street," said Susan Bro, Heyer's mother. "I find it easier to go to the cemetery than I find it to come here frankly. This is where my little girl was taken away from me."

The street crossing is the same location where 32-year-old Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a group of protesters after the Unite the Right rally was declared unlawful.

"I'm proud of how she died," said Bro. "I'm proud of why she died. I'm not proud that somebody killed her."

The pain is still very raw for friends and family. Alfred Wilson, a friend and coworker to Heyer, was unable to make it through his speech during the ceremony.

"I didn't think it was going to be this hard. To be honest, I just want to say thank you," cried Wilson. "I can't say anything else."

Heyer's family was visibly emotional as they took the podium to speak.

"It's more than just not being forgotten, it's about her legacy and what she stood for," said Mark Heyer, Heather's father. "To being infectious. For all of us to lift somebody up and to make them smile."

The street sign was approved by Charlottesville City Council in October and as Mayor Mike Signer said while reading the proclamation aloud, the sign will serve as an honorary memorial.

"At the request of the family dedicating the street Heather Heyer Way as a memorial to her tenacity and the fight for social justice is a small step that we could do to change the city for the better," said Signer.

In order to have an honorary street in Charlottesville, a person or event must have made an important contribution to the city or represent part of its history.

"I'm glad that they recognize what she means to the history of the city," said Bro. "But I'm also glad that she's only a small memorial because she's really only a small part of the rich history of the city."

Bro says she didn't want a park or a statue in her daughter's name but says as people pass the sign she wants them to think of Heather, who she says stood up for what she believed in and made an extraordinary impact.

"What other legacy could a mother want for her child," asked Bro.

Another way the family is preserving her legacy is the Heather Heyer Foundation, which will provide scholarships to those passionate about social change.

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