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article imageBleach balloon attack on minority students at the Univ. of Texas

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 5, 2012 in Lifestyle
Austin - There was a protest march at the campus of the University of Texas, following reports that black and Asian students at the University were attacked with bleach-filled balloons. Concerns that the attacks may have been racially motivated led to the protest.

According to The Horn, on Tuesday, students and members of the campus community gathered at the foot of the campus's Martin Luther King Jr. statue where two minority students spoke to them about their experience with "bleach bombs." The group them marched in a peaceful demonstration to the West Campus area where the incidents were reported to have happened.
ABC News reports that Cindy Posey, public information officer for the UT police department, said that four Asian students have reported that they were targeted while walking near the West Campus apartments off University of Texas campus.
According to ABC News, the incidents occurred from June through September. However, the students did not report the attacks until the UT police contacted them. Posey said: "We had heard at UT rumors of incidents that had happened, but no one had ever filed a report. Our chief of police did his own research, found some things on Facebook, and heard about a couple of people who were hit by balloons."
Posey said that UT police chief Robert Dahlstrom, contacted the victims and asked them why they have not filed reports. The victims, four persons, came forward on Monday.
The four students claimed that the "bleach balloons" were aimed at them from high-rise buildings. African-American UT student Jayson Runnels, who was one of the students who reported to UT police, said: "It's very frustrating to know that it's 2012 and that stuff like this still happens." He said, "A bleach bomb fell and hit me, my roommate- Well, almost hit us. It barely missed us."
According to The Inquisitr, a UT sophomore Taylor Carr, who also reported a "bleach balloon" attack, said that until pressure is put on the university, the incidents will continue to occur.
A reader, commenting on The Washington Post, said:
"The active ingredients of bleach, sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide, are both injurious to human health. Sodium hydroxide is a base and can cause burns to the eye and oral/gastric mucosa upon direct contact. Sodium hypochlorite is a pulmonary, mucosal and skin irritant. What all of this means is that if a person were to actually be struck by one of these bleach balloons, because there is no immediate access to copious running water, they could risk blindness, contact dermatitis, mucosal irritation and pneumonitis. These attacks are more than just harmless pranks and UTP's practice of ignoring the complaints is unconscionable."
ABC News reports police have not confirmed that the balloons contained bleach as reported, but Posey said the police would "get to the bottom of these incidents." She said: "UT is an incredibly diverse community, and we are adamantly opposed to anything resembling any kind of racial discrimination. 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."
Global Post reports that the vice president of UT's Pan Hellenic Council admitted that sororities and fraternities often throw balloons filled with "substances" at people in the West Campus area during recruitment period. According to ABC News, police are trying to determine if the attacks were hate crimes.
The Horn reports members of UT's Panhellenic Council have been criticized recently for "racially themed" parties at which sorority and fraternity members "dress up in stereotypical clothing associated with a minority group."
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