Posts Tagged ‘hoaxes’

The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein

August 1, 2020

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, literally lying through his teeth, recounting the fictitious “attack’ in a television interview. 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 this 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.

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.”

Hate Crime Hoaxes

July 25, 2019

On a recent Quillette podcast, Kentucky State University professor Wilfred Reilly discusses his latest book, Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War.

Reilly is one of the few academics to take an in-depth look at hate crime hoaxes in recent years. His research extends from Laird Wilcox’s seminal 1989 work, Crying Wolf, right through the 2017 post-election hoax flap to the recent Jussie Smollett case.

Reilly credits the excellent Fake Hate Crimes website for much of the data on the past decade of hate crime hoaxes, which ultimately confirm what Wilcox was saying thirty years ago:

Whenever an abstract ideal acquires the moral urgency that racial equality or opposition to “bigotry” has today, it’s only a matter of time until we find individuals for whom the noble end justifies the questionable means.

The militant, moralizing fanatic — quick to compromise important principles in order to enjoy the flush of righteousness — is the stumbling block which any reasonable resolution of racial/ethnic problems must overcome.

What Wilcox could not predict in 1989, though, was the rise of social media and the very lucrative benefits accruing to hate crime hoaxers and the Hate Industry, even when the claims are later proven to be patently false.

Prof. Reilly has been interviewed numerous times since the release of Hate Crime Hoax, but the long-form Quillette interview allows more time to expand on his research and respond to a wide range of questions.

The resources listed above will prove quite useful to anyone with an interest in the hate crime hoax phenomenon.

SPLC — Hoaxed Again!

December 22, 2016

In another ham-fisted fear campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center has embarked on a series of unsubstantiated, unverified and largely anecdotal “reports” that claim hundreds of “hate incidents” (not to be confused with actual hate crimes) and over a thousand “incidents” have recently been reported across the country at large and hundreds more occurring within the nation’s school systems.

The undeniable cause of this effect? It could only be the hate-filled election of Donald Trump, right? What else could it be (that would still agitate the donors into forking over more money)?

As we have been reporting over the weeks since the election, neither SPLC “report” stands up to the slightest breath of fact checking. The company makes huge claims of receiving thousands of reports over a web page on their website where anyone in the world can “report an incident” and they themselves disclaim that their “Trump Effect” survey of “educators” is not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, there’s no mechanism to verify that the respondents were even “educators” and all of the responses were anecdotal.

The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.

Opening her report on “election-related bias” in the elementary schools, Teaching Tolerance’s Maureen Costello makes the bizarre claim that:

“Every student, from preschoolers up through high school, is aware of the tone, rhetoric and catch-phrases of this particular campaign season.”

Really, Maureen? Every student glued to the debates, watching Meet the Press over their weekend Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts? Even kindergartners? Really? Costello peppered her report with anonymous quotes to prove that Hell’s hand-basket has arrived. [Caution: Some readers may find the following graphic content disturbing.]

One Muslim girl clung to her kindergarten teacher on November 9 and asked, “Are they going to do anything to me? Am I safe?” – Early Childhood Teacher, Tennessee

A lesbian student’s mother was telling her that life as we knew it was over, and she was quite distraught about her mother. Children are very worried about being deported or killed. – Elementary Counselor, Illinois

Pretty heart-wrenching stuff, no? It’s hard enough being a lesbian in the third grade without Donald Trump sending your mom over the edge, and let’s face it, Elementary Counselor — Illinois has never lied to us before.

On the national scene, more anonymous reports and more disclaimers that the anonymous reports were pretty much all anecdotal.

A Latina woman in Texas reported: I was walking my baby at my neighborhood park and a truck drove by with a male driving and a female passenger. The female yelled “white power” at us as they drove by and then sped away.

It doesn’t get much more Trump-related than that, or more undeniable. After all, it’s “anecdotal,” right?

November 15: “These incidents, aside from news reports, are largely anecdotal.”

December 16: “The SPLC made every effort to verify each report, but many included in the count remain anecdotal.”

 anecdotal
adjective

  1. (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research: ‘while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/anecdotal

The SPLC “reports” do include several media reports, and if the anonymous, anecdotal incidents were not proof enough, “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

This time, the SPLC got it right. A growing number of “incidents” really were directly tied to Trump’s election.

ten-days-after

And the suspect is…

andrew-mcclinton-arrested

Unlike the SPLC, we’re not going to jump to any conclusions because the authorities are still working through the case, and unlike the SPLC, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not a court of public opinion.

The same goes for this gentleman:

philly

And him:

palmer

And this young “activist”:

volk

This young woman says she made her story up because she was late for curfew:

yasmin

Let’s be honest. A lot of hateful, ignorant things have been said before and after the election, with no shortage of them coming from Trump himself, and sadly, there is no shortage of knuckleheads who will commit hoaxes in accordance with the voices they hear in their heads.

One thing you can always count on, the SPLC will find a way to build a classic fearmongering campaign around them.

THIS JUST IN: A gay couple were removed from a JetBlue flight today for allegedly verbally abusing Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her family, who were flying commercial.

According to tweets by one of the men, his husband was upset to find Trump’s family on the flight and was “chasing them down to harass them.” [Who says one spouse can’t testify against another? Someone’s going to have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do when they get home tonight.]
ivanka

Finally, SPLC, a genuine “election-related hate incident” for your collection. Let’s see if it makes it onto the list.

The Mysterious Case of Sharmeka Moffitt

October 25, 2012

**** UPDATE – April 20, 2013 **** In the same month that saw convicted hate crime hoaxer Charlie Rogers sentenced to a week in jail and two years of probation, Sharmeka Moffitt was arrested on April 2 and booked on charges of terrorizing and false reporting.

Released on $20,000 bail,  Moffitt was appointed an indigent defender and her trial was scheduled for December 12, 2013. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

**** UPDATE – December 20, 2012 **** After spending nearly two months in the hospital being treated for her severe burns, Sharmeka Moffitt was released from the hospital in good condition on December 20. Surprisingly, the article reports that “Fifth District Attorney Mack Lancaster has said Moffitt will likely face criminal charges.”

As reported earlier, Nebraska lesbian Charlie Rogers did face criminal charges in December and was found guilty of filing a false report. Rogers will face sentencing in February.

Unfortunately, neither woman has the resources or political connections of young Zachary Tennen, an alleged victim of “Nazi-Klan-Skinheads.” The impetuous youth walked away from his August hate crime “prank” scot-free.

Tennen’s daddy, who invoked the ADL and threatened to sue the city of East Lansing for incompetence, quietly asked the Prosecutor’s Office to “just drop the whole thing” once he found out that his boy got punched in the face for being drunk and feeling up girls at an off-campus party.

And for some reason, that Prosecutor said “Okay! It never happened. No harm No foul.” Sorry, ladies.

***************************************************

[Original post] In what appears to be yet another hate crime hoax this year, police in Winnsboro, Louisiana, are reporting that all evidence in a gruesome burning incident now points to the victim herself.

20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt told police that she was walking alone on a trail in a local park on Sunday, October 21, when she was approached by “three men wearing white hoodies” who “doused her with a flammable liquid and set her on fire.” Police also found the initials “KKK” and the infamous “N-word” scrawled on Ms. Moffitt’s car, in toothpaste(?)

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.

Ms. Moffitt suffered third-degree burns on at least 60% of her body, with some reports saying as much as 90%. Given the severe nature of her injuries and the record-breaking response of the police to the crime scene, it sure looks like Ms. Moffitt, or an accomplice, must have smeared the toothpaste smears on her car well before the alleged attack. This was premeditated.

Within hours of the report, the Blogosphere and social media were decrying yet another alleged attack by evil white men, once again, before the police had even had time to examine the evidence. Within hours, it was being reported that Ms. Moffitt had been raped and burned because she was wearing an Obama t-shirt, two claims that her family have declared to be completely unfounded.

This is the same pattern we’ve seen in the Zachary Tennen and Charlie Rogers hate crime hoaxes we’ve reported on in  just the past few months. Naturally, the Huffington Post reported unequivocally that “A Louisiana woman was the victim of a horrific attack during which she was reportedly set on fire and had her car defiled with the letters “KKK,” only to follow it up with a sheepish update regarding the dubious nature of Ms. Moffitt’s claims, just as they have done with both the Rogers and Tennen stories.

To his credit, even the Southern Poverty Law Center’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, has come out against Ms. Moffitt and several other hate crime hoaxers, claiming that lately, “Bogus hate crimes are all the rage.”

Of course, for Mr. Potok, these hoaxes are personal. When you work for an organization that takes in tens of millions of tax-free dollars a year claiming that “hate is everywhere,” false claims like these are bad for business.

Mr. Potok has a highly lucrative brand name to protect.

Unfortunately, neither Mr. Potok, nor the Anti-Defamation League (who were prepared to pull out all the stops over Mr. Tennen’s non-existent hate crime attack), nor any of the other Hate Industry major players are calling for stiffer legal penalties for these deliberate hoaxes.

Ms. Rogers is facing a misdemeanor charge, the Winnsboro police chief seems to feel that Ms. Moffitt’s severe burns are punishment enough and Mr. Tennen will walk away from his “boyish prank” scot-free.

We can expect to see more and more of these hoaxes, which needlessly inflame tensions and passions, while tying up valuable law enforcement resources, as long as the price for crying wolf is negligible. Hate crime charges are among the most serious that can be leveled in this country, and with that power comes the highest level of responsibility.

False hate crime charges should be met with federal repercussions. They won’t go away until the price becomes too high to pay.

Mr. Potok claims his self-appointed group is “tracking domestic terrorists,” well, if the definition of “terrorist” is “one who employs illegal methods to affect political change” then these criminals should be at the top  of his list.


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