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