Charlottesville, VA – The Charlottesville Police Department has taken a specially-decorated police Dodge Challenger out of service because it reminds people of when Heather Heyer was run over in 2017 at the Unite the Right rally.
The gray 2017 Dodge Challenger is decorated with the logo for the Special Olympics Torch Run, a fundraising campaign for Special Olympics that’s run by law enforcement officers, CNN reported.
The car was purchased used for $21,000 in January of 2018, five months after Heyer was fatally struck in Charlottesville; however, the money for the purchase was allocated and approved long before the Unite the Right rally, the Associated Press reported.
While many pro-Trump rallies had falsely been labeled by the media as “white nationalist” rallies, the Unite the Right rally was largely attended by actual white nationalists and hate groups.
Neo-Nazi James Fields, then 20, drove his car into a crowd of antifa who were marching through the street on Aug. 12, 2017.
Heyer died as a result of her injuries and numerous other people were injured, the Associated Press reported.
A jury convicted Fields of first degree murder in December of 2018, as well as multiple counts of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident, NPR reported.
Then Fields pleaded guilty in June to 29 federal hate crimes in a plea agreement that kept him from having to face the death penalty.
In July, he was sentenced to the jury’s recommendation of one life sentence, without the possibility of parole, plus 419 years and $480,000 in fines, NPR reported.
Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson has promised the city will dispose of the specially-decorated Dodge Challenger before the end of their fiscal year in June of 2020, CNN reported.
The vehicle was purchased before Richardson became city manager and before Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney was hired, but both the city manager and the chief began getting complaints about it shortly after they took office.
There was an outcry on social media from activists who were upset that the Charlottesville police were continuing to drive a car that brought back bad memories of the attack, according to CNN.
“This is clearly a reminder for many of the Summer of Hate and the attack, and we believe removing it from our fleet is in the best interests of the community,” Richardson said in a written statement.
He said that he had reviewed the feedback with Chief Brackney and they had decided to remove the car from the police department’s fleet immediately, CNN reported.
The city announced the decision in a press release on Thursday.