Cedar Valley vigil held for Virginia victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Valley vigil held for Virginia victims

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The effects of a rally and a protest that turned deadly are still being felt across the country, and right here in Eastern Iowa.

Violent protests during a White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly this weekend when a man crashed his car into a crowd of counter protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was hit and killed.  The driver is now charged with first-degree murder and a Federal Civil Rights investigation is underway.

Virginia State Troopers  Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Pilot Berke M. M. Bates also lost their lives over the weekend. The troopers were monitoring the violent protests from the air when the helicopter they were in crashed.

Monday, people in the Cedar Valley came together in Waterloo's Lincoln Park for a vigil to remember the victims.  In a moment of silence, strangers paid tribute to victims they didn't personally know but, now, to whom they feel a strong connection.

"Heather, I see her as a martyr. She was engaging in something not that unsimilar to what we are doing right here. Right now, could you imagine a vehicle plowing through this? It is horrific," said Black Hawk County Supervisor, Chris Schwartz.

The gathering asked people of different ethnicities, religions and beliefs to stand with one message.

"We stand in solidarity, we stand together as Americans. Let's keep fighting the good fight," said Vikki Brown, a local civil rights activist.

"Let us all strive to use Charlottesville as an incentive to resist bigotry and terror in America, to do more justice here in the Cedar Valley, and make Iowa a truly more inclusive place," said UNI Professor, Dr. Anne Myles.

Despite the division of political beliefs surrounding this tragedy, the vigil was about more.

"I am encouraged by the fact that people come out to this because they want to be encouraged, and they want to be enlightened. They want to know that there is hope for tomorrow. That is a good thing," said Waterloo Commission on Human Rights Executive Director, Rev. Abraham L. Funchess, Jr.

Funchess continued on to say it's important for communities to provide a space for people to speak about the current issues and begin the healing process.

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