Congressman Cohen wants probe of social justice center fire

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Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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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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