Without prior warning to her family, Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign launch video included footage of the 2015 death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Common courtesy would seemingly dictate that Biden give notice to Heyer’s survivors before using the imagery, if not ask for their approval to do so. “But I wasn’t surprised,” Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told The Daily Beast. “Most people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy. He didn’t reach out to me, and didn’t mention her by name specifically, and he probably knew we don’t endorse candidates.”
The launch video proclaimed the election would be a “battle for the soul” of America, implicitly seeking to amplify racial tensions for his political gain. The video included shots of the violent confrontations that took place during the marches held in Charlottesville near the end of the Obama-Biden administration’s eight-year run.
“We saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open. Their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and baring the fangs of racism, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ’30s,” Biden said.
Going into full stir-the-old-outrage mode, he continued: “That’s when we heard the words of the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were quote some ‘very fine people on both sides.’ Very fine people on both sides?” Needless to say, candidate Donald Trump was referring, not to the extremists who were present, but to the folks who were there to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the city’s Lee Park.
The Daily Beast asked Bro if she believed Biden’s video was exploitative. “Since we had not spoken, I’m glad he didn’t specifically mention Heather. It’s not all about her.
She did also say that she was waiting for some sort of policy statements from him, not just the return to old wounds.
“It’s been almost two years since Heather died,” she continued. “I’m moving forward. I still grieve for my daughter. But I have a realistic understanding that this was a public event, and people will use it however it suits them. It’s just a fact of life.”
To her credit, Bro was not about to declare her support for any candidate. She said, “Everybody needs to be informed and make their own decision about who to vote for. I’m the public face of a 501(c)(3). I can’t do that. I have to make it very clear to the public that the Heather Heyer Foundation does not endorse or support any candidates.”
Bro is co-founder of the non-profit Heather Heyer Foundation established in her daughter’s memory. “What we as a foundation and I personally say, is ‘Pay very close attention to what the candidates are saying and also doing. Do the two match up? Find a candidate who believes in what you believe in. Make an informed decision. Don’t just vote on party lines. Make sure you truly support that candidate. And vote.’ Too many people still don’t vote.”
— America’s Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) April 25, 2019
Biden actually used the thoroughly debunked “very fine people” meme in his campaign launch. How appropriate. He launches with a proven lie. https://t.co/LpkQElA4eH
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) April 26, 2019