On Wednesday afternoon, University of Texas student Bryan Davis was walking to a friend's apartment in the student-filled neighborhood of West Campus. As he passed the University Towers apartment building on 23rd and Pearl, a bleach-filled balloon struck him in the leg.
Though luckily uninjured, the shock took “hours” to wear off, Davis told Burnt Orange Report. “I don't feel safe walking around West Campus by myself anymore.”
Story continues below the jump.
Davis contacted the Austin Police Department, who said they'd put a detective on the case. Davis' friends have told him not to hold his breath though; no prosecution has come from APD's attention. Many students see no point in reporting the attacks when nothing has been done to stop them, Davis said.
That means there are many bleach bomb attacks in West Campus we don't know about. The concept behind them is to “whiten” students of color. Bleach also blinds people. Luckily, no one has been blinded yet in West Campus. The very real possibility is hideous.
“I talked to my sister an hour ago,” Davis said. “She's a freshman at Xavier University. I always tease her about how she should come to UT, but when I was talking to her on the phone about it, I was talking about why that was no longer a good idea, for her physical safety. UT is supposed to have the atmosphere of the entire city, it's supposed to be progressive and forward-thinking, and here we are with hate crimes still taking place.”
Students of color feeling unsafe at UT is utterly disgraceful. The university, in conjunction with APD and UTPD, must do much more to protect its students in the neighborhood. They must figure out how to stop these attacks before they happen, and make sure they don't so easily go under the radar.
“I feel like a fool having had so much pride in front of others about the school I go to,” Davis said. “Now I can't help but to feel embarrassed for both myself and the school for the reputation it's starting to get as being hostile towards blacks, Asians, and other minorities.”
“I'm a political science student myself, so I'm always talking about issues like this,” said Davis. “Now I can say I lived it. These issues don't go away until we talk about them, we talk about viable ideas and solutions about how we can eradicate this kind of racism. We have to talk about it, or people won't understand that it's not just a joke when you throw a bleach-filled balloon at a minority student.”
“I feel like these racial tensions that have been brewing – you hear about them in passing, but when something like this happens to you, it's kind of just mind-blowing,” Davis continued. “Being a minority going to a school like UT, it's a reminder that we haven't really made all of the progress we like to think we have.”
Update: APD, UT and University Towers have opened investigations into the incident.
Update: The university has said the balloon appears to have been filled with water, and they are sending the clothing away for further testing. In a statement, they said the school considers the incident to be an assault, and violation of school policy. The school is still looking into possible racial motivations behind the attack. Perpetrators will be disciplined, the statement said.
Update: “Unfortunately, both the report and the statement given by UT are a result of poor investigation and utter negligence in handling the details of my case,” Bryan Davis explains in an op-ed on Burnt Orange Report.