An 18-year-old Black woman in Madison, Wisconsin, was burned with lighter fluid in a suspected hate crime early Wednesday, according to a Madison police report.
The woman, who has been identified as a local EMT by the name of Althea Bernstein, was stopped at a red light near State Street around 1 a.m. Wednesday, when she says that she was attacked by four white men. Images provided to Madison 365 show burns on Bernstein’s neck, cheek, and under one of her eyes.
According to a report from Madison police, one of the assailants yelled a racial slur at Bernstein before he tosser the lighter fluid on her through her open car window and ignited it with a lighter. Bernstein was able to pat out the flames and drive to her mother’s house before going to the hospital to seek medical attention for her wounds.
While police would not say whether the attack on Bernstein was linked to the protests, the assault followed protesters smashing out windows and tearing down two statues at the Wisconsin State Capitol hours earlier. The same night, Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter was assaulted after filming the protesters.
Bernstein made a disturbing observation about her attackers, revealing that they appeared to be wearing “jeans and a floral shirt,” which has become a staple uniform for the far-right movement Boogaloo, or “Boogaloo Bois.” The group promotes violence against the government. However, in recent weeks they have blended with the Black Lives Matter protests, with some seeking to seemingly protect protesters while many others are looking to invoke violence against them.
Authorities confirmed that they are investigating the assault as a hate crime.