Skirts for Sasha
Students and staff at Maybeck High School in Berkeley showed their support for Sasha Fleischman who was the victim of a hate crime on Monday. Photo: Charlie Casey

Many students and staff at Berkeley’s Maybeck High School wore skirts today to show their solidarity for fellow student Luke “Sasha” Fleischman, whose skirt was set on fire as the 18-year-old slept on a bus on Monday.

Most of the small school’s students and staff are pictured above, including Trevor Cralle, the school’s director (center, in white shirt).

Fleischman, a senior at the school, was sleeping in the rear of an AC Transit bus heading toward the family home in Oakland when 16-year-old Richard Thomas allegedly set the skirt Fleischman was wearing on fire, according to authorities.

Luke “Sasha” Fleischman. Photo: Fundly

Fleischman, with the help of other riders, was able to extinguish the flames but suffered second- and third-degree burns to the legs that will require significant skin grafting. The student, who identifies as agender, is undergoing treatment at St. Francis Memorial Hospital’s Bothin Burn Center in San Francisco.

Thomas, who attends Oakland High School, made his first appearance in court Thursday. He has been charged with a hate crime, aggravated mayhem and felony assault. According to NBC Bay Area, Thomas’ mother, who did not want to be identified, said her son is not a hateful person. She said he is a kid and he “jokes around,” adding that he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. She said her son is very remorseful and wants to apologize to Fleischman, adding that he is already writing a letter to the victim.

Teen who set fire to Berkeley student charged with hate crime (11.08.13)
Supporters rally for Berkeley student set fire on bus (11.07.13)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...