Fourth Street reopens as permanent memorial is discussed

An impromptu memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed on Fourth Street during the August 12 rally, kept the street closed for nearly a month. Photo by Eze Amos An impromptu memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed on Fourth Street during the August 12 rally, kept the street closed for nearly a month. Photo by Eze Amos

The swath of flower bouquets and candles that once laid across Fourth Street in remembrance of Heather Heyer has been cleared, and the road was reopened on September 9.

The Downtown Mall crossing had been closed since August 12, when the driver of a Dodge Challenger plowed into a crowd of people at the intersection of Fourth Street SE and Water Street, killing Heyer and injuring many others.

“In the spirit of bringing healing to the community, I have suggested that the city move forward with the reopening of the site of Heather’s impromptu memorial,” said her mother Susan Bro, in a press release published by the Heather Heyer Foundation.

The city and Heyer’s family are discussing a permanent memorial, and city spokesperson Miriam Dickler says a street naming or plaque could be on the horizon.

The city’s traffic engineers and public safety staff are currently assessing pedestrian safety at areas with heavy foot traffic downtown and beyond, says Dickler.

Gwen and Virginia Berthy, who own record shop Melody Supreme on Fourth Street, say they are glad to see the street reopen.

“We feel very conflicted. I don’t want to do anything to disrespect [Heyer] or the people who were injured,” Virginia says, but at the same time, their sales were halved during the road closure and down 35 percent for the month of August. “We’re still not sure we’re going to survive,” she adds.

Virginia suggests another way to memorialize the counterprotester who lost her life during the August 12 white supremacist rally: “We have a park that needs a new name. Why don’t we elevate what she was trying to do?”

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