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Althea Bernstein, 18, Black and Jewish, burned in hate crime

Madison 18-year-old Althea Bernstein, who was reportedly set on fire by four white men, identifies as culturally Jewish, according to a family spokesperson.

The Madison Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Bernstein is a biracial African American, according to family spokesman Michael Johnson.

The family identifies as both culturally Jewish and Unitarian, he said.

Bernstein was at a stoplight with her window down on June 24 when she was sprayed with lighter fluid, called the “n-word” and set on fire, according to police reports. The fire was set when a flaming lighter was thrown at her, police said.

The incident occurred just a few blocks away from protests against racism and police brutality at the state Capitol.

She was able to drive home, but was treated for third-degree burns at a hospital. The incident has captured national attention.

Bernstein works as an EMT and is studying at Madison College to be a paramedic and firefighter.

“I don’t have any room for hate or holding grudges,” Bernstein said on Good Morning America. “So I hope these men see what happened to me and choose to make a change in their lives.”

This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. Reposted with permission.


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