The Madison Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime against a 18 year old Althea Bernstein who was reportedly set on fire by a white man.
Bernstein is African American on her mother’s side and Jewish on her father’s side; she identifies as culturally Jewish according to a family spokesperson.
Bernstein was at a stoplight with her window down on Wednesday when the attack came from a car with four white men. 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.”