The events in Charlottesville over the weekend hit close to home for many North Carolinians. Debates over Civil War and Confederate monuments and the recent rise of white supremacists are certainly topics we’ve dealt with here in recent years.
But for one woman from The Triangle, the deadly attack in Charlottesville was personal. Her name is Susan and we’re not including her last name because she fears reprisals from white supremacists.
She was in Charlottesville this weekend to counter-protest, and was just steps away from the automobile attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
You can listen to her conversation with Dave DeWitt or read a transcript below.
Dave DeWitt: Let’s start with that horrific event, Saturday, 1:42 PM, in downtown Charlottesville, on the corner of Water Street and Fourth Street. Tell us where you were, and what you saw from your perspective.
Susan: I was on Water Street, in the march, kind of near the front of the march. It was one of the best moments all day, then I had seen the car. I had seen that it was on the street, and then I saw it back up. The person was driving in a way where I could tell that they were displeased that we were there, but I thought it was just a regular person frustrated with protesters causing traffic. And I thought that he was just backing up to drive around, and maybe not making the safest choice, but I was not expecting him to just pummel through all of us. I saw people run to the sides of the street really quickly, and I moved that way. A friend of mine pulled me into a business that was unlocked, I stepped out shortly after that because I realized another friend was not with us. That was when I saw that the car was backing up really, really fast. So then I ran back off the street just in time to not be hit by the car.
DeWitt: So the car makes that horrific impact into the back of another car, which seemed to hit another car. Was it pretty obvious right away that it was a pretty serious situation?
Susan: I wasn’t immediately sure. I kind of looked behind me, and I saw that there were still a lot of people behind me, and that was when I realized that it wasn’t okay. As I started moving away from where everything was – because a tank came down, a tank with national guardsmen came down the street before an ambulance came – that’s when I realized that something really, really bad was happening. I knew that people were dead or dying at that moment. It’s hard to even really think about what my thoughts at that moment were because it was just pure survival mode.
DeWitt: Let’s go back a little bit, what made you go to Charlottesville in the first place?
Susan: I’m very concerned about the rise of fascism in this country. I’m also somebody who has been victimized by people who didn’t think I should be allowed to be alive. So when there was a call from black leadership in Charlottesville to come and protect the city and defend the city against white nationalists, I jumped in a car on the way up.
DeWitt: If this happens again, if there’s another demonstration, if there’s another protest, and another counter-protest in the future, would you go?
DeWitt: No question.
Susan lives in The Triangle and was steps away from the car attack allegedly perpetrated by a white supremacist that killed a counter-protester over the weekend in Charlottesville. Again, we’re not including her full name because she fears a reprisal from hate groups.