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The case was also investigated by the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice

Despite the investigation’s findings, acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said his department is not recommending Bernstein be charged with [making] a false police report.

Madison police, federal law enforcement find no evidence biracial woman was attacked

Chris Rickert | Wisconsin State Journal – Oct 3, 2020

Madison police announced Friday they have not been able to corroborate allegations made by a biracial Monona woman that she was burned by four white men in Downtown Madison in June in what was initially reported as a hate crime and garnered national and international attention.

Althea Bernstein, 18, told police someone sprayed lighter fluid on her and set her on fire in the early morning hours of June 24 after one of the men yelled a racial epithet.

But on Friday, the police department said it was closing the case because “after an exhaustive probe, detectives were unable to corroborate or locate evidence consistent with what was reported.”

The case was also investigated by the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and in its own statement Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin said “after reviewing all available evidence, authorities could not establish that the attack, as alleged by the complainant, had occurred.”

[snip]

Bernstein was interviewed on “Good Morning America” two days after she reported the incident, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of the British royal family reached out to her as well. Madison and Dane County officials had also condemned the alleged attack, with Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway calling it “a horrifying and absolutely unacceptable crime that … may have been a premeditated crime targeted toward people of color.”

[snip]

But there have been questions about the veracity of the woman’s report because, unlike in other crimes that occur Downtown, police never released surveillance camera images of the incident or possible suspects in an attempt to find the perpetrators. Very little of the public parts of Downtown are hidden from the views provided by dozens of city-owned cameras and other private surveillance cameras to which police have access.

[snip]

No charges

Despite the investigation’s findings, acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said his department is not recommending Bernstein be charged with obstructing an officer, which can apply in cases in which a person makes a false police report. A representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not available for comment, but Wahl said he doubted it would pursue charges against Bernstein, either.

[snip]

Frat boys’

Bernstein told police she was driving her brother’s 2007 Hyundai Elantra through Downtown following a date when she stopped at a stoplight, possibly on West Gorham Street at State Street, at around 1 a.m. June 24 and was approached by four white men, one of whom yelled a racial epithet.

One of the men squirted her with lighter fluid through her open driver’s side window and then threw a lit lighter or match at her, she said, setting her face and neck on fire before she patted out the flames. Her family later released photos of her showing burns to her face. She described the men as looking like “frat boys” — two of whom were wearing “floral shirts” and blue jeans and two of whom were in all black and wearing masks. The man who allegedly sprayed her was wearing a “salmon-colored” floral shirt, she told police.

No camera evidence

An exhaustive search of video from city and privately owned surveillance cameras, however, turned up no evidence of the attack, and the investigation identified a number of inconsistencies in Bernstein’s story.

[snip]

A review of 17 city cameras in the Downtown area from 12:15 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. found no groups of white males matching Bernstein’s descriptions.

Police also did not find any fire damage in the Elantra, according to police reports, and a dog trained to sniff out accelerants did not find evidence of them in the car.

[snip]

Other factors

[snip]

Investigators told the Bernstein family’s attorney that “the attack, as Bernstein had described it, had not occurred,” according to police reports, but also told her that there was “no evidence that Bernstein had colluded with anyone to make a false report or that there was any mal-intent or pre-planning that occurred in regards to Bernstein’s statement to police.”

No tie to protests

The alleged attack on Bernstein happened on the same night police were dealing with violent Black Lives Matter protests in the Downtown in which protesters tore down two statues on Capitol Square, including one of a Union Civil War soldier and abolitionist, and threw a Molotov cocktail through a window of the City-County Building, starting a small fire.

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After Black Lives Matter Protestors Tore Down Statues they “began trying to break the windows and doors of the Capitol, police arrived in riot gear” meanwhile 2/10 of a mile away Four White-Supremacist Frat Boys out for a stroll at 0100 hours Allegedly Yelled A Racial Epithet At A Bi-racial Woman, Squirted Her With Lighter Fluid And Attempted To Ignite Her

Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, as protesters began trying to break the windows and doors of the Capitol, police arrived in riot gear and said the group was “unlawfully gathered.” Officers warned everyone to leave the area.

After Black Lives Matter protestors tore down statues they “began trying to break the windows and doors of the capitol, police arrived in riot gear” meanwhile 2/10 of a mile away four White-supremacist frat boys out for a stroll at 0100 hours allegedly yelled a racial epithet at a bi-racial woman, squirted her with lighter fluid and attempted to ignite her.

Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, as protesters began trying to break the windows and doors of the Capitol, police arrived in riot gear and said the group was “unlawfully gathered.” Officers warned everyone to leave the area.

And the next morning headline: After violent Madison protest goes largely unchecked, focus shifts to lack of police response

https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime-and-courts/after-violent-madison-protest-goes-largely-unchecked-focus-shifts-to-lack-of-police-response/article_8d214e86-02d6-5174-ba83-39195c81dbed.html

State and local elected officials from across the political spectrum expressed outrage and disappointment Wednesday after Black Lives Matter protesters in Madison tore down the state Capitol’s iconic “Forward” statue and one of a Union Civil War colonel, assaulted at least two people — including a state senator — and set a small fire in a city building Downtown.

Still unclear was whether Madison police would move to curtail any future violence after largely standing down while some activists and others have blocked traffic, harassed residents, defaced property, and smashed windows and looted businesses up and down State Street in the three and a half weeks since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked anger nationwide over racism and police brutality.


October 2, 2020

THE DEMAND FOR RACIAL HATE CRIMES EXCEEDS THE SUPPLY: Police, federal law enforcement find no evidence biracial Madison woman was attacked. “There had been questions about the veracity of the woman’s report because, unlike in other crimes that occur Downtown, police never released video stills of the incident or possible suspects in attempt to find the perpetrators. Very little of the public parts of Downtown are hidden from dozens of city-owned cameras and other private surveillance cameras police have access to.”

Also, the woman, Althea Bernstein, looks about as black as Rachel Dolezal. Not saying that she isn’t really biracial, but she doesn’t seem like someone who’d be targeted by someone out to get a black person.

Plus: “Bernstein said the attack happened at around 1 a.m., or about 20 minutes after a group of people threw a Molotov cocktail through a window of the City-County Building in the Downtown, starting a small fire. The firebombing was part of a larger Black Lives Matter protest in which protesters tore down two statues on the Capitol Square, including one of a Union Civil War soldier and abolitionist.”

But when she showed up at the hospital with burns, she blamed four white men in “floral shirts.”

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