Althea Bernstein is a paramedic only 18 years old, and she was attacked last Wednesday morning. According to what she told the police, four white men sprayed her with a flammable liquid, set her on fire and called her with a racist insult.
Now, the attack that occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, just a few blocks from the state capitol, will be investigated as a hate crime.
The biracial woman explained that she was driving to her brother’s friend’s house around 01:00 hours (local time), at dawn, when stopped at a red light. She was listening to music and had the driver’s window down, when you heard someone use a word with racist components.
According to the police report, when she turned around, saw four men in a car. One of them threw a liquid that fell on his face and neck and then threw a lighter on, which caused his face to catch fire.
“She accelerated and put out the flames in her hands“Says the report. The young woman decided to drive to her house, where his mother advised him that it was best to go to the hospital. Once there, she was treated for burns. Hospital staff believe the fluid was for lighters.
The teenager suffered second and third degree burns, according to Michael Johnson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County organization, who spoke on behalf of the family.
“It is totally unacceptable given everything that is happening in this country. It is unacceptable behavior that we simply are not going to tolerate, “Johnson told the BuzzFeed News.
“(The Bernstein family) is sad about what happened to Althea and the unprovoked attack on her body. At this time, our family is asking everyone to respect our privacy while Althea is recovering from burns on her face and neck“The young woman’s family said in a statement.
Satya Rhodes-Conway, the mayor of Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, described the attack on WISC-TV as a “horrible and absolutely unacceptable” crime.
“While we are still learning more about the details, current information suggests that this may have been a premeditated crime directed at people of color, which makes the incident even more disturbing, “said Rhodes-Conway.
For his part, the Madison Police Department is reviewing surveillance videos to locate suspects. If found, they could face charges of attempted murder, in addition to jeopardizing security, with exacerbating hate crimes. This would make it more eligible for sentencing much more hard, according to WISC-TV. Victor Wahl, Madison Police Chief, reported that the investigation is a priority for the department.
“Where is the respect for humanity? I hope the police arrest these people. We live in a time in the United States where we should show empathy and love, “Johnson said in an interview.
For his part, Johnson is an activist who has raised money for African American men who have been killed by members of the police, including George Floyd, whose death sparked a series of mass mobilizations in recent weeks against police brutality, and Michael Brown. . Now he is working together with the family and the authorities.
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