On Wednesday, University of Texas student Bryan Davis, who is African American, was struck by a bleach-filled balloon while he was walking to visit a friend in a neighborhood populated by UT students. Moreover, this attack appears to be part of a chain of similar assaults targeting students of color on the Texas campus. Last October, Austin police launched an investigation into four similar attacks on UT students, all of which targeted Asian or African Americans.
The October incidents sparked a wave of protests on Texas’ campus.
Davis told the Burnt Orange Report’s Ben Sherman that he doesn’t “feel safe walking around West Campus by myself” after the incident, and worried that incidents such as this one can poison the entire campus. “I talked to my sister an hour ago,” said Davis. “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.”
Sherman also speculates that the purpose of the bleach bombs may be to target students of color with a chemical normally used to “whiten” clothes. Regardless of the purpose of these attacks, however, they are very serious crimes. Bleach can cause severe damage to the eyes and even cause blindness.
In a statement emailed to ThinkProgress, UT says that “[i]ndications are that the balloon dropped last week was filled with water. However, the university has collected clothing and balloon remnants from the site and sent them a lab for further forensic testing.” The statement also claims that an investigation of the October incidents did not uncover evidence of bleach.