In Tennessee, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether white supremacist graffiti found in the parking lot of the Highlander Center is linked to a fire last week that destroyed one of the civil rights institute’s buildings. On March 29, the fire tore through the main office of the Highlander Research and Education Center, the famed social justice organization that once hosted Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and trained Rosa Parks in nonviolent civil disobedience. This is Highlander co-director Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson.
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson: “We are physically OK. Everyone on our staff is physically OK. No one was physically harmed. … We did lose, obviously, some really important historical documents. It was not our full archive.”
Authorities are investigating the incident as a possible arson and hate crime, after a white power symbol was found spray-painted in the center’s parking lot. The symbol is frequently used by white power groups and was painted on one of the guns used by the alleged mosque shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. In a statement, the Highlander Center said, “While we do not know the names of the culprits, we know that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally.”