Police Investigating After Black Woman Says White Men Tried To Set Her On Fire
Police in Madison, Wisconsin, are investigating a biracial woman’s claim that four white men tried to set her on fire as she stopped for a red light in her car, according to The Hill.
- Authorities are investigating the assault as a hate crime, the report states.
- Police wrote in the incident report that “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."
- Local reports have identified the victim as 18-year-old Althea Bernstein.
- Bernstein said four white men 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,” according to the police report.
- She told a local news outlet that the men used “the N-word really loud.”
- Bernstein said she ultimately “just blasted through the red light” in an effort to get away and drove to her brother’s house, where she had initially been headed. Once there, her mother told her to go to the hospital.
- She was treated for burns at the hospital, where staff said they believed the liquid to be lighter fluid.
- Medical professionals “had to pretty much scrub the skin off, which was extremely painful,” Bernstein told the local news outlet.
“Burn pain is something I can’t even really describe. I don’t know how to describe it. It was horrible,” Bernstein said.
"I never really knew someone could hate you just by looking at you," she continued. "They didn’t know me. I didn’t know them. I was just driving my car and minding my own business.”
The Hill noted that “Madison has been the site of escalating protests this week amid nationwide demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd.”