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.
An 18 y/o black woman was SET ON FIRE yesterday by 4 WHITE MEN who approached her car at a stoplight screaming racial slurs at her before throwing lighter fluid and a match in her face.
She suffers from THIRD DEGREE BURNS to her body.
SAY HER NAME: ALTHEA BERNSTEIN pic.twitter.com/b44LReZ7cx
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) June 25, 2020
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.
A Black woman named Althea Bernstein was set on fire by white men in downtown Madison, and the news has basically ignored it in favor of talk of statues and damaged businesses.https://t.co/rzy5JRIxkX
— Chet Agni (@ChetAgni) June 25, 2020
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.
Unbelievable. In Wisconsin, a 18 year old Black woman, ALTHEA BERNSTEIN was set on FIRE by 4 white supremacists men yesterday. They approached her at a stop light , began shouting racist slurs & burned her with a lighter. This is a humanitarian crisis in the U.S! How many more?!? pic.twitter.com/DZ2Rvbm4Xe
— Habiba Choudhury #BLM 🌹✌🏽 (@PeopleMvmt) June 25, 2020
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.
An 18-year-old black woman says white men yelling racial slurs set her on fire yesterday in Wisconsin.
Althea Bernstein, who works as an EMT, said rather than financial support, she wants people people to sign petitions and "support black lives."https://t.co/7Os8JPteKv
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 25, 2020
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.
ain’t no ignoring..
let’s start petitions, spreading awareness..
SAY HER NAME. https://t.co/9LuTAvDiQm
— spicebae. (@spicebae_) June 26, 2020
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.”
JUNE 25, 2020
Her name is Althea Bernstein
she’s only 18 years old and some white men set her face on fire.. while calling her all types of racial slurs… this is the america we’re living in TODAY 2020 this is why we keep having to yell and protest that black lives matter pic.twitter.com/ErGaadl9bq
— ሳሊና (@REDSEASHAWTY) June 26, 2020
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.”
If you were upset that Madison protestors tore down those statues but are silent about what happened to Althea Bernstein then don’t talk to me. https://t.co/sr1gUEdEiy
— Joey the Railway Cat (@ProbablyJobey) June 25, 2020
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.