Biracial Jewish woman says she was set on fire in attack investigated as hate crime


(JTA) — A biracial Jewish woman in Madison, Wisconsin, said she was attacked and set on fire by four white men.

Police were probing the early Wednesday incident as a hate crime, CBS News reported.

The woman, Althea Bernstein, said someone yelled a racial epithet at her while her car was stopped at a light and her window was down. Bernstein, 18, said she saw four white men, and one sprayed liquid and threw a lighter on her, setting her on fire. She was treated at a hospital for burns on her face.

Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the family, said Bernstein identifies as “a biracial African-American” and the family “is culturally Jewish as well as Unitarian.”

The American Jewish Committee a tweet on Monday praised the police and FBI for probing the incident as a hate crime.

Johnson said in a statement from the family reported by CBS that they were “saddened at what happened to Althea and the unprovoked attack on her body. At this time, our family is asking everyone to respect our privacy as Althea is recovering from the burns on her face and neck.”

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway called the incident “horrifying and absolutely unacceptable,” according to Channel 3000.

“While we are still learning more about the details, current information suggests this may have been a premeditated crime targeted toward people of color, which makes the incident even more disturbing,” Rhodes-Conway said.

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