Rep. Steve Cohen asks for federal investigation into Highlander Center fire

Local News

NEW MARKET, Tenn. (WATE) – West Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen has asked Attorney General William Barr to investigate last week’s fire at the Highlander Education and Research Center in New Market for possible violations of federal law.

In his letter to Barr, Cohen notes that a white supremacist symbol, the same one displayed by the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter, was found spray-painted near the building that burned.

“I urge you to investigate this incident for violations of federal law as well as significantly increase the department’s efforts to combat the recent hate crimes and white nationalism across the country,” wrote Cohen.

The fire destroyed the center’s main buildings where a number of records and documents are housed.

The Highlander Research and Education Center has been a force in the civil rights movement for 87 years. First established in 1932, in Monteagle, Tennessee, the focus was to organize unemployed and working people. Highlander also worked to end segregation in the labor movement. 

The center became an “incubator” for the civil rights movement. From 1961-1971, it was based in Knoxville, and in 1972 it moved to its current location near New Market, Tennessee. 

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