Like everyone else, Hair Balls was freaked out over reports of alleged mad bombers at UT-Austin pelting minority students with bleach-filled balloons. But then we spoke with the Austin Police Department, and we decided to suspend our outrage until we learn more.
Dozens of students held a campus march against racism Tuesday evening to denounce a reported rash of a-holes dropping toxic balloons from high-rises just off campus, but the info we're getting from the Austin Police Department paints a more nuanced picture.
Here's what we were told: The first known incident occurred in June, and involved a black male and black female walking in the vicinity of 26th and Pearl streets, when an allegedly bleach-filled balloon burst open near them. The couple wasn't hit, and they didn't see any suspects or hear anything.
In August, the black male from the previous incident complained to police that, while visiting the Jack in the Box at 26th and Guadalupe streets he overheard some white and Middle-Eastern males speaking in a foreign language. At one point, the man said he heard a phrase that was a "racial slur." The detective handling the case did not want to release the alleged slur, but the police don't think it's related to the balloon incident. (We don't quite understand why this dude filed a police report in the first place).
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On September 18, the black male and female from the first incident were again walking in the vicinity of 26th and Pearl when a balloon hit their car. The couple reported an odor of bleach; there were no known suspects.
Sometime after that, a different black male filed a report claiming that he and a friend were walking near 26th and Nueces when they saw a balloon hit the ground in front of them. They looked up to see a white dude on the uppermost balcony, and the black male and white guy exchanged racial slurs. Two suspects were later identified by the University of Texas Police Department, and they admitted to throwing the balloon, but said it wasn't filled with bleach and that race was not a factor. They allegedly told police that they only used racial slurs because the black male started it. (Ah...higher education. Everyone's parents must be so proud!)
The APD spokesperson told us of another report, just recently filed with the UTPD. We're waiting to hear back from the detective handling that case, as the department's public information officer didn't have, uh, any public information.
Hopefully, the police will get to the bottom of this, and we'll stay tuned.