Murder of Gay, Jewish Student Raises Questions About Hate Crime Prosecution

BY SPENCER WELLS for newvoices.org


On January 9th, 2018, Blaze Bernstein’s corpse was discovered in a shallow grave in Lake Forest, California. Bernstein’s murder came in the wake of the year that had, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the largest single-year increase of anti-Semitic incidents on record. Bernstein was a 19-year-old gay, Jewish man. His alleged killer is 21-year-old Samuel Woodward, a peer of Bernstein’s from high school. According to an investigation by ProPublica, Woodward has been involved with the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group with a violent history. (Among other evidence, ProPublica obtained photographs of Woodward at a Atomwaffen meeting, including a photo in which he gives a straight-armed Nazi salute).

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