East Bay News

March held in Oakland for teen lit on fire on bus

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Accept everyone sign March held in Oakland for teen lit on fire on bus

Supporters of 18-year-old Luke "Sasha" Fleischman marched in Oakland on Thursday evening to demonstrate their concern. Sasha was badly burned on an AC Transit bus when another teenager set fire to the skirt that Sasha was wearing while Sasha was sleeping on the bus.

Sasha's mother and father were among the marchers in a show of solidarity with Sasha. Sasha's story resonated with the marchers who feel the teenager was victimized for being different. The 18-year-old identifies as agender, meaning neither male nor female.

Friends and family of Sasha started at Oakland High School at 5:30 p.m. and walked about a mile, along the 57 bus line, to Ardley Avenue to where the attack happened. The supporters are calling the march "Walk the Rainbow Road" and were asked to wear bright colors and bring ribbons.

Sasha's mother, Debbie Crandall, spoke to ABC7 News and said marches like this help raise awareness. She said, "It's not just for Sasha, but it's for the community and it's for people to accept all different kinds of people and that's what I hope this Rainbow Road that people have created by hanging ribbons and things on the bus poles. We want everybody to add their own ribbon and their own uniqueness."

The march will end at St. Paul's Lutheran Church with dinner and a conversation about the spectrum of human diversity.

Richard Thomas, 16, was arrested in connection to the incident. Police say he admitted to being homophobic.

Sasha faces many skin graft surgeries for second and third-degree leg burns and remains hospitalized in stable condition. Classmates of Sasha's wore skirts in solidarity and tied rainbow ribbons on the bus poles.

Sasha's family has re-opened a donation page on fundly.com. They've raised more than $22,000 to help pay for medical expenses.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
oakland, ac transit, fire, crime, berkeley, hate crime, lgbt, east bay news, carolyn tyler
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