A symbol associated with a white nationalist movement was discovered at the site of a burned down social justice center in New Market, Tennessee.
The Highlander Research and Education Center is considered to be one of the oldest social justice institutions. It once hosted historic civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Peter Seeger and Rosa Parks.
According to the Center’s news release on Tuesday, a blaze engulfed and destroyed the main office building on Friday night. Nobody was injured.
The New Market fire department posted photos of the business fire on their Facebook page.
How awful - I love KNOXVILLE and spend a lot of time there for business and pleasure. Sad day.— dp (@Kathi24925110) April 2, 2019
This is truly awful. Solidarity and love to the comrades at Highlander Centerhttps://t.co/X2YI22JYGL— Haymarket Books (@haymarketbooks) March 29, 2019
Highlander suspects that the arson was the work of white supremacists after discovering a “white power” symbol in the parking lot near the main office.
“While we don’t 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.”
“Since 2016, the white power movement has become more visible, and we’ve seen that manifest in various ways, both subtle and overt.”
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying they are investigating the cause of the conflagration and are working with state bomb and arson agents.
They are additionally looking into any affiliation with the reprehensible symbol.
“We are investigating a symbol that was painted in the parking area of the office to see if it has any affiliation to any individual or group.”
White-power movement graffiti was found spray-painted in the parking lot outside the scene of a massive fire at the Highlander Center last week. https://t.co/B8lztLrS9i— Palladium-Item (@pi_news) April 2, 2019
Another case of white nationalist terrorism. Largest growing group of terrorist in the US or as Trump likes to refer to them as “very fine people.” I just call them what the like to be called, Republicans.— Corey Tucker (@ce30tuck) April 3, 2019
The Center played a significant role in training and supporting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee according to their website.
Many on social media are calling this an act of domestic terrorism.
The white American terrorists are here.— Nate Coles (@EJK1Boxing) April 3, 2019
Coincidentally Trump cut all funding in Homeland Security Domestic terrorists task force. He’s a fucking mob boss.— Kerri Blanchard (@KerriBlanchar15) April 2, 2019
If only we had some kind of law enforcement organization in charge of internal terrorism but alas...— Francisco Vilches (@jurahkan) April 3, 2019
Highlander urged the community to stay vigilant and “to love each other and support each other and to keep each other safe in turbulent times” in the wake of the incident.
“Now is not the time to dismiss how scary things are, which makes it even more important to have concrete assessments of concrete conditions, and sophisticated strategies to build a new world.”
The Highlander Center, one of the most important retreats for social activism, had a major fire over the weekend. It was one of MLK's favorite places to decompress. https://t.co/JE6M86XuXt— Ray Winbush (@rwinbush) April 1, 2019
The fire destroyed many of the Center’s precious and historical documents and memorabilia from many important milestone movements. A further assessment of damage and loss is pending until authorities grant clearance to re-enter the premises.
Such a shame you can try to destroy history but you can't erase history. We ain't going no where.— Dawn Jackson (@dawnyjackson64) April 3, 2019
The Center’s destruction is one of many hate-related acts of vandalism on the rise.
NBC News reported that the Oklahoma Democratic Party headquarters and a Chickasaw Nation office were also vandalized with white power graffiti the day before the Highlander fire.
Oklahoma City police were looking for a female suspect responsible for spray-painting the buildings with anti-Chinese slurs, swastikas and the numbers “1488” – which are used by white supremacists to refer to Adolf Hitler.