June 25, 2020

18-Year-Old Black Woman Set On Fire While In Her Car By 4 White Men In Wisconsin

According to a police report from Madison, Wisconsin, 18-year-old Althea Bernstein was allegedly assaulted in a hate crime by four white men who poured lighter fluid on her and then threw a lighter at her while she was driving in her car.

Local Madison media outlet, madison365.com, interviews Bernstein about the incident:

“I was listening to some music at a stoplight and then all of a sudden I heard someone yell the N-word really loud,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “I turned my head to look and somebody’s throwing lighter fluid on me. And then they threw a lighter at me, and my neck caught on fire and I tried to put it out, but I brushed it up onto my face. I got it out and then I just blasted through the red light …  I just felt like I needed to get away.”

PHOTO: Althea Bernstein (buzzfeednews.com, “Courtesy of Michael Johnson“)

The Police Report

“The MPD is investigating an assault on an 18-year-old bi-racial woman as a hate crime after she was burned with lighter fluid early Wednesday morning. The victim believes she was driving on W. Gorham St. when she stopped for a red light at State St. Her driver’s side window was down and she heard someone yell out a racial epithet. She looked and saw four men, all white. She says one used a spray bottle to deploy a liquid on her face and neck, and then threw a flaming lighter at her, causing the liquid to ignite. She drove forward, patted out the flames, and eventually drove home. Her mother encouraged her to go to a hospital. Hospital staff believed the liquid was lighter fluid. She was treated for burns, and will need to make follow-up visits to access additional medical care. Investigators are looking at surveillance images to see if any of the assault was captured on camera.
 Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or by computer at P3Tips.com”