In the Face of Rising White Supremacist Violence, Police Continue to Investigate Victims and Activists - 2020-01-20
When local police arrived on the day of the fire, the first thing they asked Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, one of Highlander's two co-directors, was "Are you beefing?"
"It was very clear to us that that there was some feeling that we might have done something to instigate this, versus white supremacy instigated this," said Henderson, the first black woman to lead the center. "At that point, I didn't even know what the symbol was or meant, but even when we did realize that it was a symbol of the white power movement, it's not like we're out there doing a tit for tat with them. I'm literally in a position where my very existence as a human is the antithesis of what they believe in."
André Canty, who works in development and communications at Highlander, compared the line of questioning from police after the fire to that following the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012 — or that often applied to black victims of police violence. "What did he do to cause his own death?" said Canty. "You're asking me, why did your abuser abuse you? Why are racists doing racist things?"