Authorities investigate bleach-balloon cases - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Authorities investigate bleach-balloon cases

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UT police are addressing reports of incidents near campus that some students say are racially motivated. Those incidents include bleach-filled water balloons being thrown at students of color in the West Campus area.

A rally was held to shed light on these incidents and encourage UT officials to take them seriously. Not only black students but community members of all backgrounds attended this rally. They marched from the UT campus to West Campus.

Hundreds gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue on campus, some sharing their unfortunate stories of racism in West Campus. Many of color say they have been hit with bleach-filled balloons.

Four people have filed complaints with UTPD including UT freshman Ray Matthews.

Early Sunday morning, he and his friends were walking near the 26 West Apartments when they say balloons were thrown at them.

"Me and my roommate were ahead of the group. We stopped and saw a balloon hit the trees and we started smelling the bleach," said Matthews.

Matthews and others at Tuesday's rally say they've been called racial slurs and have had bleach-filled balloons thrown at them. Now they want it to stop.

UT held a press conference earlier in the day to address the concerns about racism.

"We have received information specific to members of particular organizations hosting parties with themes that are cultural in nature this is a great concern to us at the university," said Soncia Reagins-Lilly with UT Dean of Students.

Many students think the parties are related.

But the UTPD Police Chief does not believe they are. He says they are working with APD to investigate the incidents.

"We have reports of balloons being dropped and we have reports of bleach balloons and we have not confirmed the bleach in balloons," said UTPD Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom.

"Bleach-filled water balloon was dropped from up above, right on us," said Taylor Carr.

She says she's been hit by bleach-filled balloons.

In the past, she says she told an APD officer, but since no one was hurt and no report was made.

Carr says throwing a bleach-filled water balloon at a person of color is racist.

"I think the University needs to take a stand and protect its students of color," said Carr.

Now she and others are hoping this march will raise awareness and bring an understanding between everyone of different backgrounds.

"I think it's time to stop living in the 50's and 60's and grow up. Get with the program it's the 21st Century. Time to move on," said Matthews.

Austin Police say there have been four reports of water balloons thrown at students in the West Campus area since June. They say it's not clear if the balloons were filled with bleach or if the incidents were racially-motivated. UT police are also investigating the reports. They encourage students who may have any information about these incidents to come forward.

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