As Virginians cope with the deadly aftermath of a white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, state leaders didn’t preach about unity from their offices or on TV — they went to a historically black church in Charlottesville.
The racial divides that fueled Saturday’s violence were replaced by unity Sunday as one white elected official after another condemned the white supremacists in front of the black congregation at Mt. Zion.
“We come to you this morning to reassure you that the Commonwealth of Virginia and all of us that are in this together will not and do not condone white supremacists that brought their hatred and bigotry to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam told Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, to roaring applause.
“That’s not what we’re about. So I am here this morning, as your lieutenant governor, and also as a doctor, to start the healing process.”
During the attack, a gray Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters walking down a street in downtown Charlottesville. The driver then slammed the car in reverse and fled the scene backward.
Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed in the car crash. Another 19 people were wounded, including five people still in critical condition Sunday, a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Medical Center said.
The suspected driver was arrested later that afternoon.
Two Virginia State Patrol troopers also died when a helicopter crashed in a wooded area near Charlottesville after monitoring Saturday’s events. The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, were killed.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.