White power graffiti investigated in fire at East Tenn. social justice center

Tennessee News
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A white power symbol spray-painted in a parking lot at the Highlander Center is being probed as part of the investigation into a blaze that destroyed the building that housed its offices.

The white power symbol was found in the parking lot connected to the main building, the Highlander Research and Education said in a statement.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Coffey, however, said Tuesday morning it is *undetermined* if a white power symbol was found.

The main building at the Highlander Research and Education Center, where many civil rights leaders were trained over decades, was destroyed in a fire discovered early Friday morning.

The fire in New Market was initially reported as a brush fire and the building’s fire alarm system was not triggered.

Sheriff’s Office and state arson investigators are investigating, but the Highlander Center said in a statement that it will continue to be a “place where principled struggle happens, that place “that incubates radical work”: and that place “that demands transformation justice.”

The fire destroyed one of 10 buildings on the grounds and housed the organization’s offices. Decades of historical documents, speeches, artifacts, and memorabilia were destroyed.

The original center was founded in Monteagle in 1932. The center has been in New Market for nearly 50 years. The social justice and leadership research center educated many of the Civil Rights Movement’s most important figures including Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

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