CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Friday marked five years since white nationalists clashed with counter protesters in the wake of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
The scene turned deadly when James Fields Jr. slammed his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Later that day Virginia State Police Trooper Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates of New Kent County were killed when their helicopter crashed.
Bates and Cullen were on their way to provide over-watch for the motorcade of then-Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin released a statement remembering the victims:
“We all remember and condemn the terrible violence that took place in Charlottesville five years ago," Youngkin said. "Today, I ask all Virginians to remember that violence and hate has no place in our Commonwealth or our country. There is so much more that unites us than divides us and we will continue our work to bring Virginians together. We remember and honor the lives of Heather Heyer, Lieutenant Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates who we tragically lost five years ago.”
Sen. Tim Kaine also released a statement on the anniversary.
“The attack in Charlottesville five years ago was a heartbreaking tragedy and a reminder that we have much more work ahead to confront hate. We must unequivocally stand against violence and bigotry and commit to being better today than we were yesterday,” Kaine said.
Charlottesville had safety and emergency measures in place Friday as residents gathered to remember the tragedy.
The University of Virginia held a moment of silence to honor the victims.
“I was looking out over the street, seeing people stop, looking up at the bells, listening with their head down,” Matt Weber with the University of Virginia said. “I think this was a really important moment for UVA in Charlottesville to be able to know that with this moment of silence with the bells ringing, that we should always stop and reflect and never forget what happened five years ago.”
A vigil and other events honoring the victims were scheduled throughout the day on the UVA campus.
Mental health services were available since Aug. 12 remains a sensitive day for many in the Charlottesville area.
Heather Heyer Way, which stretches across the Downtown Mall, will remain blocked off through the weekend.