03:03 - Source: CNN
Heather Heyer's mom breaks silence on Biden invoking Charlottesville
Washington CNN  — 

The mother of a woman killed in the 2017 Charlottesville protests, which were referenced in a video announcing Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, said Friday it’s important the incident remain a part of the political dialogue.

“I think it has to be part of the political dialogue. Because this is a very serious problem in our country. Not only do we deal with hate crime, we have to deal with the reporting of hate crime,” Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” Bro believes those injured in hate crimes are not adequately represented in federal statistics.

In a video launching his 2020 campaign Thursday, Biden highlighted President Donald Trump’s reaction to the white supremacists’ August 2017 march in Charlottesville and alluded to the killing of Heyer, a counter-protester.

“The President of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime,” Biden said in the video.

“We saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and bearing the fangs of racism, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 30s,” Biden said.

“And they were met by a courageous group of Americans. And a violent clash ensued. And a brave young woman lost her life,” Biden said, referring to Heyer.

Bro had no prior notice that Biden would refer to Charlottesvile and her daughter in his campaign video.

She told CNN she’s “not surprised” that Charlottesville was mentioned, because it “has been a defining moment for a lot of people.”

“I don’t think we’ve seen him (Biden) in town. I don’t think he’s ever been here, or maybe he has in the past, I don’t know. It was just sort of a feeling of, ‘Well, here we go again,’” Bro said.

Bro said she received a call from the former vice president hours after Biden released his campaign announcement video. She recalled that she and Biden spoke about bereavement, since they had both lost loved ones.

“I think he said something about, ‘I would’ve reached out sooner, but I wasn’t sure how you’d feel.’ And I commented, ‘Yes, I noticed you didn’t mention her name because you hadn’t contacted me,’” she recalled.

Asked if she wished Biden mentioned Heyer’s name, Bro replied, “Not particularly. It’s not about her. The issue is about the hate. It’s not about Heather.”

Biden’s focus on Charlottesville drew some criticism from some progressives, one of whom argued “Charlottesville is not a prop.”

While she wasn’t bothered, Bro acknowledged, “I think it was traumatizing for some other people in Charlottesville to just suddenly have that thrown up at them on the screen. And I did mention it to him.”

In a separate interview with CNN on Thursday after her call with the vice president, Bro said she thinks Biden “seems like decent guy,” but stressed that she wasn’t endorsing a candidate.

Biden told a fundraiser in Philadelphia Thursday night that he spoke with Bro earlier that day. A spokesperson would not comment further about the call.

CNN’s Arlette Saenz and Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.