Mother of Charlottesville victim has ‘no interest’ in talking to Trump
ABC News/WOLO – The mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed Saturday when a car rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said she “will not” speak with President Donald Trump in the wake of her daughter’s death.
“I have not and now I will not,” Susan Bro said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts today on “Good Morning America,” adding that she believes the first phone call to her from the White House came during her daughter’s public memorial service on Wednesday.
“The first call, it looked like actually came during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message,” said Bro. “There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day and I didn’t know why.”
Bro, who had thanked Trump in a statement on Monday for his “words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred,” said she was recovering from the “exhaustion of the funeral” Wednesday and did not return the White House messages.
She said her opinion of Trump’s response changed after she had time to watch news coverage of the Charlottesville protests after laying Heyer, 32, to rest on Wednesday.
“I hadn’t really watched the news until last night and I’m not talking to the president now, I’m sorry, after what he said about my child,” Bro explained. “It’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters … with the KKK and the white supremacists.”
She continued, “You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving for that.”
When asked if there was anything she would want to say to Trump, Bro said, “Think before you speak.”
Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters in New Jersey Thursday that the White House is working to identify a convenient time for the discussion between Trump and Heyer’s family to take place. ABC requested comment today from White House officials and has not immediately received a response.
Bro also sat down for an interview with ABC News on Thursday, during which she said she is hesitant, nearly one week after Heyer’s death, to speak to Trump or any politician.
“I understand that President Trump wants to speak with me… and it’s not that I’m trying to be calloused, it’s that I have no interest in speaking to politicians just to hear them say, ‘I’m sorry,'” Bro told ABC News on Thursday. “If I felt like that’s all they wanted to say, that would be different, but I feel like I’m wanted to be used for political agendas and I’m resistant to that.”
Trump has come under heavy fire for his response to Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally, whose attendees included white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, and turned deadly after a car plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heyer and injuring 19 others.
In a news conference Tuesday at Trump Tower, Trump reiterated that “both sides” were to blame for the violence.
“I wasn’t there that day, but I will tell you that I’m pretty sure that’s the only person that ran people down with a car, so that level of violence didn’t take place on both sides, that did not happen,” Bro said Thursday of the crash that killed her daughter.
“I’ve heard it said that the murder of my daughter was part of making America great,” Bro added. “The blood on the streets, is that what made America great? Attacking innocent people with a vehicle, is that what made America great?”
When asked if she had sympathy for the cause of the white nationalists, Bro said, “I don’t know what their cause is. I haven’t heard what’s bothering them.”
Bro did not allow politicians to speak at the memorial service for Heyer, which was attended by more than 1,000 people, including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. The White House did not send a representative to the service.
“This was my only chance to say goodbye to my daughter,” Bro said today on “GMA.” “It was a private moment that I was willing to allow the world to view but this was my only chance to have my private time with my daughter.”
Describing herself as “a little wounded” and “a little angry,” Bro added, “I’m more than willing to have other events where they can speak on her causes.”
Bro clarified today that her daughter, a paralegal who lived in Charlottesville, was not part of any organized group protesting in her hometown, saying, “She was part of a group of human beings who cared to protest.”
“I’m honestly a little embarrassed to say that part of the reason Heather got so much attention is because she’s white, and she stood up for black people,” Bro told ABC News on Thursday. “Isn’t that a shame? That a white person standing up for a black person caused all this excitement? That should be an everyday thing, that should be a norm.”
Bro said that she is now dedicating herself to “forward Heather’s mission.”
“A lot of people are already aware of injustice, it’s not that they’re not aware, it’s that they won’t do anything about it,” Bro said Thursday. “‘I’m afraid, I’m afraid,’ that’s what I keep hearing, and that’s what the murder of my daughter and the injury of several others was intended to do, was to make people afraid.”
“But if we live in fear, then they’ve won,” she said, calling on people to “get involved” when they witness injustice.
“Heather was not a politician, but she was interested in changing people,” Bro said. “My focus is not on politics; my focus is on human beings and on how we as human beings can fix problems.”
Bro said reading the “messages of love and support” are helping her get through the tragedy of losing her daughter, but ultimately the mother said that the death of Heyer leaves behind “a hole that’s not going to be filled by anybody else.”
When asked today what she remembers most about her daughter, Bro answered, “That tenacious, stubborn spirit that just would not let you get by with a half-a– answer. You had to get to the truth. You had to get to the bottom. You had to get to the nitty gritty of it. She was not going to let go.”
ABC News’ Katie Kindelan, Emily Shapiro, Katherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.