Assault near Wisconsin protests investigated as hate crime

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – An assault on a biracial woman in Madison was being investigated as a hate crime after the woman told police she was burned by a lighter liquid thrown on her and ignited by a white man, a few blocks from violence. protests at the state Capitol.

Althea Bernstein told police she was driving near the Capitol around 1 a.m.Wednesday and stopped at a red light with the driver’s side window down. Bernstein, 18, told police she heard someone shout a racial epithet, looked around and saw four white men.

He told police a liquid sprayed on his face and neck and threw a burning lighter at him. Bernstein said she went ahead, put out the flames, and drove to her home, where her mother encouraged her to go to the hospital. She was treated for burns. Hospital staff believe the liquid was a lighter fluid, police said.

A call from The Associated Press to the Bernstein home was forwarded to Michael Johnson, president of the Dane County Boys and Girls Clubs. Johnson released a statement from the Bernstein family that they were “saddened by what happened to Althea and the unprovoked attack on her body.” Right now, our family is asking everyone to respect our privacy while Althea is recovering from burns on her face and neck. “

The assault came amid a night of violence on Tuesday that included the collapse of two statues outside the Capitol and an attack on a state senator. A group of 200 to 300 people protested the arrest of a black man after he yelled at restaurant customers through a megaphone while carrying a baseball bat.

Someone also threw a Molotov cocktail into a government building and attempted to enter the Capitol, only to be repelled by police pepper spray parked inside. The violence prompted Governor Tony Evers to activate the National Guard to protect state property.

On Wednesday night, about 40 people gathered peacefully outside the county jail where the man was being held, demanding his release. A crowd of about 100 people gathered outside the Capitol.