The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein

Early on the morning of June 24, 2020, 18-year-old Althea Bernstein claims she was stopped at a red light in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, when she was allegedly approached by four white men, (described by Bernstein as “classic Wisconsin frat boys”), who “shouted the N-word” at her and sprayed her face and neck with lighter fluid and “allegedly tossed a flaming lighter at her,” igniting the fluid. Bernstein claims that she then “patted out the flames and eventually drove home,” where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.”

Such an unprovoked attack would be heinous enough to begin with, but because Althea Bernstein is bi-racial the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Add in the fact that Bernstein’s father is Jewish and you have a hate crime two-fer on your hands.

Bernsteins

Althea Bernstein and her father in 2017

While we at Watching the Watchdogs are willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and take their allegations as true until proven otherwise, the Bernstein case has been exhibiting many signs of being a potential hate crime hoax from the beginning. Far from “blaming the victim,” a closer look at the claims and reporting of the incident are in order.

  1. The alleged attack took place at 1:00 a.m. in the morning during a violent BLM “protest” in downtown Madison.
  2. Bernstein says she was on her way to visit her brother in nearby Middleton at 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
  3. Despite driving downtown in a large city in the middle of the night, during a riot, Bernstein reports that she had her driver side window down while stopped at the red light.
  4. When the “four white frat boys” approached the window of her car, one of them produced a “spray bottle” of lighter fluid and proceeded to spray Bernstein in the face, miraculously missing the young woman’s eyes.
  5. Bernstein says that one of the boys “threw a lit lighter” at her to ignite the fluid. Since disposable butane lighters go out when released, one must assume that this lighter must have been of an old-time Zippo-like design. The cheapest Zippo lighters on Amazon.com retail for $16.95 and tend to pick up the user’s fingerprints, making them both rather pricey and incriminating to be thrown away in an arson attack. No lighter was found in Bernstein’s vehicle.
  6. Bernstein says that despite being the victim of an alleged hate crime, she continued to her brother’s house and then went home, where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.” Bernstein finally called the police at 5:45 p.m., nearly 17 hours after the alleged attack, on the police department’s non-emergency phone line.You can listen to the full call here.
  7. Bernstein drove herself to the Emergency Room.
  8. After an initial spate of media reports, including an interview with Good Morning America, and a high-profile call of support and solidarity from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Bernstein and her family have been silent on the alleged attack ever since, on the advice of their family attorney.
  9. A GoFundMe site, approved by the Bernstein family, has raised nearly $10,000 for the victim, but the family has directed that the money be turned over to charity.
  10. Despite allegedly taking place within a block of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, during a “violent protest,” the four attackers, two dressed all in black and two in flowered shirts, have yet to appear on any security or surveillance camera footage, as of this writing.

Granted, all of the above is circumstantial evidence, neither proving nor disproving Ms. Bernstein’s claim, but there certainly is a significant amount of it.

Naturally, the Media, smelling a potential hate crime, jumped on the story with gusto, and, before the police investigation had even begun, had determined that every word of Bernstein’s allegations were true. Google “Althea Bernstein” and see how many times the word “alleged” appears in the hundreds of results. 

Interestingly, even Ms. Bernstein’s own mother seems to be in favor of exaggerating the story. While Bernstein’s appearance on Good Morning America clearly shows burn marks on the left side of her face, the side facing the driver’s window, a Facebook post by Rebecca Bernstein shows (identical) burns on both sides of Althea’s face!

 

althea-bernstein-gma2-1593448141

Bernstein on Good Morning America

Bernstein mother

Any 10-year old with a smart phone can reverse an image but you have to do it intentionally. Why would the mother of an alleged double hate crime attack deliberately alter photos of her daughter’s injuries?

In another interesting coincidence, also occurring at 1:00 a.m. in downtown Madison, a group of “peaceful protesters” were fire bombing the Madison City-County building just a few hundred yards from the intersection where Ms. Bernstein claimed she was burned by four racist frat boys.

Madison City-County building

Unlike Ms. Bernstein’s case, this arson attack was captured by surveillance cameras. Also captured sometime later was 26-year-old Marquon Clark, a “person of interest” in connection with the attack on the municipal building.

Madison Arson Suspect

REWARD: @ATFStPaul is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for info leading to the ID/arrest a man believed to be responsible for the fire-bombing at a downtown Madison government building early this morning. Call (608) 266-6014 @madisonpolice @MadisonWIFire @USAO_WDWI

[Update, 8/4/20. A June 24 tweet by the ATF included the closeup image of the “person of interest” spraying the Madison City-County building with what appears to be charcoal lighter fluid.]

Marquon Clark

Marquon Clark

Ironically, the Molotov cocktail lobbed into the building forced the evacuation of Madison’s 9-1-1 response center, so it’s probably a good thing Ms. Bernstein waited seventeen hours to report her attack on the non-emergency line and eventually drove herself to the hospital.

[During the “peaceful protests” that night, two statues were pulled down and a Wisconsin state senator, 60-year-old Democrat Tim Carpenter, was violently attacked by the mob.

Ironically, (there’s that word again…) one of the statues was a likeness of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and vocal abolitionist, who died leading his Union regiment into battle against evil Confederate troops in 1863.

The other statue, actually an allegory of Progress titled “Forward,” was of a woman, sculpted by a woman artist, Jean Pond Minor, and was paid for by local women’s groups.

Sen. Carpenter describes himself as a Gay Progressive. “Sad thing is I’m on their side for peaceful protests,” Carpenter later observed.

Apparently, they don’t make “social justice” like they used to anymore.

When Madison officials held a press conference on the afternoon of the 24th to decry the senseless violence and vandalism social media and the Blogosphere pounced, accusing them of caring more about statues than for Althea Bernstein. The press conference was held at 4:00 p.m. Ms. Bernstein didn’t get around to reporting her alleged attack until 5:45 p.m. (8/11/20)]

Again, this is more circumstantial evidence, and as we always remind our readers, correlation in no way implies causation. Just because youthful “protesters” were lobbing flaming liquids around in the vicinity does not necessarily mean that Ms. Bernstein got splashed there and made up the “frat boy” story to cover her actions, but it sure seems like we’ve heard this song before.

Of course, the Jussie Smollett case from 2019 comes to mind. The gay Black actor claimed that he was attacked at 2:30 a.m., on the coldest night of the year (in Chicago!), by two white men (pictured below), who beat him up, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck while shouting “This is MAGA country!” (in Chicago!). Smollett’s case is still pending as of this writing. Smollett was allegedly hoping to create some favorable, or at least sympathetic, publicity to bolster his acting career.

Smollett Brothers

Smollett’s confessed “attackers”

Also in 2019, 12-year-old Amari Allen swore that three white boys held her down on the school playground and cut off her dreadlocks, calling them “nappy,” except it never happened.

In 2017, 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, of Manhattan, Kansas, reported to police that his car had been vandalized with racist slurs. It had been… by Dauntarius Williams.

In 2016, 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid told police she had been attacked on a New York City subway platform by three white men who yelled “Donald Trump!” while attempting to pull off her hijab head scarf. Seweid later confessed to making the whole story up to cover her late night out drinking with her Christian boyfriend. While the court sentenced her to counseling, her father, who apparently didn’t want his underage daughter drinking alcohol or dating Christians, forced her to shave her head.

Seweid

Seweid and her father appear in court, 2016

Long-time Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our post concerning 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt from 2012, who claimed that she was walking alone in Louisiana park one night when three white men in hoodies doused her with a flammable liquid and set her alight, causing third degree burns on her body. Her car was vandalized with “KKK” and the “N-word” written on it… in toothpaste.

Moffitt

Ms. Moffitt

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only. A year later, Moffitt pleaded guilty to one count of terrorizing and one count of false swearing, receiving a ten-year suspended sentence. No reason for the hoax was given.

Also from 2012, we reported on one of the most heinous hate crimes of the century. Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen, 19, was at a college party one night, minding his own business, when two white males, with shaven heads, approached him and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was, the two bald men informed him that they were with the local Ku Klux Klan, then “made Nazi gestures” and proceeded to beat poor Zachary senseless, breaking his jaw in the process and… stapling his mouth shut after the attack! And the crowd of party-goers stood by and did nothing.

Tennen

Zachary Tennen

Naturally, the Media was all over this story. It had absolutely everything a news editor could wish for. Nazis, Skinheads, the KKK and anti-Semitism galore. Plus they stapled the boy’s mouth shut!  Tennen’s father threatened to call in high-powered lawyers from the Anti-Defamation League to help him sue MSU if the evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads were not brought to justice immediately.

And then the real story came out. Young Mr. Tennen admitted to being “drunk and high” at the party that night. Several female students attending the party reported that Mr. T. was being obnoxious, making unwanted advances and “getting grabby” (every woman reading this description knows exactly what was going on). One of the women complained to a male friend, who explained to Mr. Tennen that if he did not cut it out he was going to regret it.

Mr. Tennen did not heed the advice. He put his hands on another woman and the other male, who was not a Nazi, or a skinhead, or with the KKK, kept his word and with one single punch knocked Zachary out cold, fracturing his jaw in the process. The crowd failed to intervene in “the beating” not because they were inherently anti-Semitic, they did not intervene because the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye.

To date, no explanation has been given for the piece of wire found in Tennen’s mouth, but it was most likely part of a retainer or other dental device. Zachary Tennen’s mouth was never stapled shut.

Like many teenage hoaxers who panic and play the hate card, Tennen found himself in over his head with no way out.  In the photo above, Tennen is shown in the hospital with his jaws wired shut, recounting the fictitious “attack’ in a television interview, literally lying through his teeth. Tennen stuck with his story until it finally collapsed under its own incredulous weight.

When Zachary Tennen finally came clean about the events of that evening the silence was deafening. Because he was actually punched in the face at the party, the Lansing Police Department still considered it an assault, regardless if the hate crime details were fabricated, yet no charges were filed against the student who punched Tennen.

Michigan State University decided that since the assault occurred off-campus that it suddenly had no role to play in the proceedings and the Tennen family called off the ADL lawyers at the last minute, stating that “…justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time.” The end. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The point here is that hate crime hoaxes happen, and when they do happen the usual suspects rush in to capitalize on the initial claims and then going silent on the matter, as with the Althea Bernstein case, or making up some lame justification (“Yeah, well, it could have happened. Racists!”).

The Media and the Hate Industry players could care less if a story is true or not. They’ll make their money peddling the initial fear and outrage and there is a LOT of money to be made from that golden goose. After that, they will lie low until the next hoax comes along. It’s just business, folks. Very, very profitable business.

One final note, even the millionaires at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who have never met a “hate” claim they could not monetize, are staying clear of the Bernstein case. To date, the company has not said a word about the matter.

In all fairness, though, even the NAACP and Al Sharpton, who rose to fame propagating the Tawana Brawley hate crime hoax in 1987, have made no comments on the Bernstein story so far. Coincidence?

Stay tuned for updates on this mysterious case.

[Update — 9/22/20 — It has been 90 days since Ms. Bernstein claimed she was attacked by “four white frat boys” but Madison Police and the FBI have yet to turn up a single clue. No video. No witnesses. Nothing.

“As of Wednesday, [August 12, 2020], authorities confirmed that there is no new information to report concerning the alleged attack,” reported The Daily Wire website. “There is nothing new to release at this time,” [Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain] said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Two weeks after those reports were published, Ms. Bernstein turned up at another Madison protest, doubling down on her attack claim and addressing the crowd. “Does my skin color offend you? Does my success scare you? Does the fact that I’m a Black woman make you worried that change in [sic] going to happen?”

That quote came from an unnamed Associated Press reporter who made the entirely unverified claim that “One of the demonstrators was Althea Bernstein, the 18-year-old Black woman who was lit on fire as she sat in her car at a Madison intersection…” The term “allegedly” never appears once in the report, and it was reprinted by US News and World Report, who really ought to know better. Such is the sorry state of “journalism” today.

The media madness spilled into September, with The Clarion, school newspaper for the Madison Area Technical College, using the same attack-as-fact language in a highly sanitized story about a September 2 student protest on behalf of Althea Bernstein. Apparently, Ms. Bernstein was otherwise engaged that day and unable to attend the march and fundraiser in her honor.

On September 11, the National Football League released a list of approved “names of victims of police violence and systemic racism…” that NFL players could wear on their helmets to signify their virtue. The second name on that list (no doubt because she’s a woman) is Althea Bernstein.

One final note, the GoFundMe fundraiser we mentioned earlier was mysteriously closed on August 18, by its organizer, Linda Rogalski, having stalled at $9,818 dollars, meaning that no one had contributed since July.

The mysteries are several:

  1. Despite requiring ongoing medical attention for Althea’s burns, the Bernstein family, who approved the fundraiser, did not want to use the money to pay for medical costs. Instead, they wanted the money to go to charity.
  2. Ms. Rogalski writes that the money will actually be used to help Althea Bernstein purchase a “farmette” where she can rescue animals. The farm will be called “Timberdoodle Meadows.”

    And this applies to Ms. Bernstein’s alleged hate crime status how?

  3. The fundraiser fell short of its $10,000 goal, but only by a fraction. They raised 99.2% of the money, but strangely, Ms. Rogalski has included a link on the site where donors can ask for their money back, “Since it did not reach the goal amount for the campaign.”

    Really? “You only raised 99.2% of the money earmarked for a hate crime victim so I want a refund,” said nobody, ever.

  4. GoFundMe donations are available to the beneficiaries almost immediately, even during ongoing campaigns, and there is no deadline for closing a campaign, so why would you close it at all, especially when you are within spitting distance of the goal line?]

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

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2 Responses to “The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein”

  1. Midnight Says:

    You said she called the police five (5) hours after the attack. I believe it was actually something like 17 hours later. She said the attack happened at 1am, and she called the police the next evening.

    • rkeefe57 Says:

      You are correct! We thought it was incredulous enough that she waited nearly FIVE hours to report the alleged hate crime that we misread times given in the local media report:

      “The call was made at 5:45 p.m. on June 24 as a non-emergency call. It ended at 5:49 p.m., with the dispatcher telling the woman that a Madison police officer or detective would be in touch.”

      It’s interesting to note how many reports and comments on the story express outrage that Madison Police Department told Ms. Bernstein that they had other post-riot cases they were working on at the moment and would send someone out as soon as possible.

      Thank you for catching this error. We have updated the posting accordingly.

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