UT students speak out about bleach balloon attacks

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by MELISSA MAHADEO / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

kvue.com

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 6:00 PM

AUSTIN --Tuesday evening University of Texas students marched through the streets of West Campus protesting a string of possible hate crimes.

"A bleach-bomb fell and hit me, my roommate; well almost hit us. It barely missed us," student Jaysen Runnels said. "It's very frustrating to know that it's 2012 and that stuff like this still happens."

Not everyone is convinced the incidents having anything to do with race. Some students said the recent reports of balloons full of bleach being thrown from balconies at black, Hispanic and Asian students, are just pranks.

"I have seen it happening for the past three years, all the time," student Sophie Weiner said.

"I see it from my balcony," Pete Desai said. "I think it is just who ever happens to walk by at the time."

"I don’t know. My friend said they had gotten a banana thrown at them and someone said they had a water balloon with bleach thrown at them one time," student Mackenzie Drake.

Police said they're investigating several incidents, and they said if prosecutors determine they're hate crimes, that may be difficult to prove.

"It can be difficult to prove because it is motivation. Motivation can be very subjective," Officer Steve McCormick said.

The vice president of UT’s Panhellenic Council said sororities are aware of the incidents saying, "For a number of years during their formal recruitment period, members of the sorority community have periodically had balloons filled with various substances thrown at them in the West Campus area. Each year, we work with the Austin Police Department as well as local property managers to address this issue. We are unable to provide any information regarding the motives or intent of those who commit these attacks."

Whether they are hate crimes, police say throwing an object at someone from the balcony is considered assault.

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