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FBI Investigating Hate Crime After Woman Set on Fire in Louisiana

"KKK" and racial slur smeared on her car

Common Dreams staff

Edna Moffitt, the mother of burn victim Sharmeka Moffitt, wipes away tears during a press conference at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport on Monday. (Photo: Val Horvath Davidson/The Times.)

UPDATE: Police announced Tuesday evening that they believe the Louisiana woman who reported being set on fire Sunday night in an alleged racial attack instead set herself on fire and wrote KKK and a racial slur herself.

* * *

A 20-year-old African-American woman told police she was doused in flammable liquid and set on fire Sunday night by three men who wrote the initials KKK and a racial slur on the hood of her car.

Sharmeka Moffitt, 20, is in critical condition at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, the Huffington Post reports today.

"Both of her arms, and they are third degree burns, down her chest and legs—one," Moffitt's mother said during a press conference. "Basically her arms are real bad."

Police discovered the letters KKK and a racial slur smeared in a "paste-like substance" on the hood of Mofitt's car, parked at a town park in Winnsboro, La.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident as a hate crime, Louisiana State Police spokesperson Lt. Julie Lewis said. No arrests had been made as of late Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Moffitt was apparently walking on a paved trail in the park at about 9 p.m. Sunday when the attack occurred, the News Star reported.

According to the Associated Press:

On the emergency call, Moffitt described her attackers as three men wearing white hoods or hats, Lewis said. She later told a Winnsboro Police officer who responded to the call that the men were wearing white hoodies. She was unable to say what race her attackers were. The officer found no suspects or vehicles at Civitan Park in Winnsboro, where the attack allegedly happened, and the park has no surveillance cameras, Lewis said. She said the state crime lab was analyzing several pieces of evidence.

Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb told the News Star that he had never experienced such a crime, and added, “It’s most definitely a horrific event that has created an uneasy feeling in the community."

Otis Chisley, president of the local branch of the NAACP, said that while he would wait for more facts before drawing conclusions.

But he acknowledged that racism and KKK activity is "prevalent throughout Louisiana. It's hidden but it exists."


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