On June 24, a Black woman in Madison, Wisconsin, suffered third-degree burns on her face after she said that four white men threw lighter fluid at her and a lighter while she was in her car. The 18-year-old victim, Althea Bernstein, talked to Madison 365 and said that the men yelled a racial slur at her before attacking her.
According to Bernstein, she was listening to music at a stoplight when she heard someone yell the N-word. She turned her head to look and a lighter fluid was thrown at her. A lighter was thrown at her as well, and her neck caught on fire. She tried to put the fire out but it spread to her face. After she got the fire out, she drove through the red light and kept on driving until she got to her brother's home.
According to Madison 365, Bernstein's mother drove her to the hospital where the hospital staff identified the lighter fluid on her face and neck.
A police incident report stated that the four men used a spray bottle to spray the lighter fluid on her face. Bernstein expressed her disbelief in what happened. She said that she grew up in Madison and she would go around town with her father on the same streets where she was assaulted. She added that she now feels it is weird to have happy memories because what happened to her ruined it.
Bernstein did not know that people could hate others just by looking at them, she said she was just driving and minding her own business. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the authorities are now investigating the incident and they believe that what happened to Bernstein is a hate crime.
On June 25, Joel DeSpain, the Madison police spokesman, said that the police are reviewing the surveillance images in the area to check if the attack was captured on camera. Bernstein will need continued medical treatment for her third-degree burns but instead of financial support, she is asking people to sign petitions and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
On June 25, Bernstein's family released a statement and said that they have asked the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and its CEO, Michael Johnson, to represent them.
The statement reads that their family is saddened at what happened to the victim and that it was an unprovoked attack. They added that they are asking for privacy as Althea is recovering from the burns on her face and neck.
The police are now asking the public to come forward if they have any information about the attack or about Bernstein's assailants.
Attack on the Black community
These past few weeks, there have been reports of dead Black men hanging from trees. There have been a total of five bodies found earlier this month and although the authorities had ruled them all out as suicide and stated that there was no foul play found, the public is insisting that it is impossible.
According to the Washington Post, netizens are now asking for all cases to be thoroughly investigated as they feared that it could be modern-day lynching, and it is a retaliation for the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement which asking for systemic racism and police brutality to end.
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