Numerous University of Texas at Austin students, alumni and faculty assembled around a campus statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. Tuesday to protest recent reports of “bleach balloons” being propelled at scholars of color on the campus.
“It’s very frustrating to know that it’s 2012 and that stuff like this still happens,” said UT student Jaysen Runnels.
Runnels is one of four students at the gathering who retold their experiences of walking by high rise apartments near the campus and having bleach-filled balloons dropped on them.
The incidents all happened separately, spanning from June to September, and each victim was either Black or Asian.
Corporal Anthony Hipolito of the Austin Police Department said the students did not initially report the attacks. Police had to reach out to them after hearing rumors of what happened.
“UT is an incredibly diverse community, and we are adamantly opposed to anything resembling any kind of racial discrimination,” Cindy Posey, a representative of the university police department, told ABC. “So we are working really hard to get to the bottom of it. We’re talking to people and trying to find out what happened.”
Prompted by these reports of racism, the group of protesters marched across campus and toward the neighborhood where the incidents took place. They yelled different chants in unison, one of which was “No violence, no silence.”
Taylor Carr, a sophomore at the university and another one of the students who was hit with a balloon, also spoke during the gathering.
“It is people of color they are attacking in West Campus,” she told The Horn, the university newspaper. “Until we put pressure on the university to [protect] us, these events are going to keep happening.”
Chas Moore, a former UT student and community activist announced through a megaphone, “This is not 1960. We are not going to be afraid to walk anywhere. We are not going back in time.”
He added that if the police should fail to put a stop to the bleach-bombing and the people behind the attacks “touch another student of color or any gender or anything; I am coming over here myself. And that, my friend, is a promise.”
Students shared their experiences with racism, sexism and homophobia during a panel over a week ago. Austin police are working with the university police to find out who is responsible for the attacks.