Congressman Cohen wants probe of social justice center fire

This March 11, 2019, file photo shows Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., representing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of N.Y., joined at left by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, going before the House Rules Committee. Cohen is asking for a federal investigation of a fire that destroyed the main office at a Tennessee center that played a prominent role in the civil rights movement. Leaders of the Highlander Research and Education Center have said they found a “white power” symbol spray-painted near the scene of the March 29 fire. The building was one of 10 on Highlander’s rural campus in New Market. Local investigators have not said whether arson is suspected. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

NEW MARKET, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) is asking for a federal investigation of a fire that destroyed the main office at a Tennessee center that played a prominent role in the civil rights movement.

Leaders of the Highlander Research and Education Center have said they found a “white power” symbol spray-painted near the scene of the March 29 fire. Local investigators have not said whether arson is suspected.

In a Thursday letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Cohen requests an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Memphis Democrat also asks that Barr “significantly increase the department’s efforts to combat the recent rise in hate crimes and white nationalism across the country.”

The center in New Market helped train the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders.

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