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Police Investigating After Black Wisconsin Teen’s Face Was Allegedly Set On Fire By Group Of White Men At Stop Light


According to police reports, 18-year-old EMT Althea Bernstein was sitting at a stoplight in Madison, Wisconsin. The city had seen another night of protests that included some violence and assaults.

Bernstein was not at the protests, but was driving on a nearby street.

She was allegedly approached by four White men. They sprayed Bernstein with a fluid then ignited it.

This lit her face and neck on fire.

Bernstein was reportedly driving to a friend’s house around 1 A.M. when she stopped at a traffic light.

She heard the n-word from outside her open driver’s side window.

When Bernstein turned to see who had said the slur, she saw four White men in another car.

One of them sprayed lighter fluid at her before tossing a lighter into her car.

The young woman was immediately lit on fire.

But according to incident reports she drove forward and patted herself out. She then drove to her mother’s house where she was convinced to go to the hospital for treatment.

Hospital personnel reported they believed the liquid sprayed on Bernstein was lighter fluid.

The assault coincides with continued anti-racism protests in Wisconsin which have lead to clashes with counter-protesters.

Investigators are now determining whether or not Bernstein was the victim of a hate crime.

Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, acted as spokesperson for Berstein’s family to Buzzfeed News, saying:

“It’s totally unacceptable given everything that is going on this country.”

“It’s just unacceptable behavior that we’re just not going to tolerate.”

Johnson said Althea will be returning to the hospital for further treatment, but she was able to return home and is in good health.

“[Bernstein’s parents] just wanted to make sure that their daughter heals from this.”

“The mother, she just wants to make sure that her daughter heals and is OK.”

The Berstein family issued a statement, saying:

“Our family is saddened at what happened to Althea and the unprovoked attack on her body.”

Hopefully, investigators will be swift and appropriate justice is administered very soon.


Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--