Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Another student targeted in West Campus balloon attack

Shelby Tauber

Government senior Bryan Davis speaks at a rally held in response to a hate crime in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue Wednesday afternoon. The rally was organized by the Black Student Alliance and held on the 50th anniversary of King’s “I have a dream” speech. 

Another student has reported a West Campus balloon attack, according to a statement submitted to the Campus Climate Response Team.

The report was filed nearly two weeks after government senior Bryan Davis received national media attention after he said he was targeted by a “bleach bomb” balloon. Similar allegations were reported in the fall of 2012. Ryan Miller, an educational administration graduate student and associate director of Campus Diversity and Strategic Initiatives, said this most recent incident occurred Saturday night, but he was unable to provide information about the location, the name of the victim or contents of the balloon — whether water or bleach.

Miller said the investigation is ongoing.

“Each case is unique,” Miller said. “If there’s an incident that requires a criminal investigation, we work with UTPD and the Austin Police Department.”

Otherwise, Miller said, incidents violating institutional policy are taken up with the Dean of Students. 

Davis, the victim of the previous balloon attack on Aug. 22, wrote an op-ed for the Burnt Orange Report on Friday in which he claimed that University and police officials made quick and uninformed statements to “scoot the [race] issue under the rug.” Davis wrote the op-ed in response to a University statement that said the balloons used in his attack and the 2012 incidents were likely filled with water. 

“Unfortunately, both the report and the statement given by UT are a result of poor investigation and utter negligence in handling the details of my case,” Davis said in the op-ed. “From the very beginning, I have consistently stated in all three reports I have given to the UTPD and APD that the bleach balloon did not directly strike me but had landed approximately 4-5 feet away from me.” 

According to Davis, the only liquid that made contact with his body did so on his right leg and nowhere else. In the op-ed, Davis said UTPD’s sending his clothing to an independent forensic lab for further testing will not yield any new developments. 

“UTPD and APD are analyzing ‘evidence’ that tells no more about the assault that happened than does anything else from or on my body except the calf-area of my right leg,” Davis said in the op-ed. 

In their coverage of the balloon attack, Davis argues, several media organizations wrongly reported his story and printed inaccurate information. Specifically, Davis mentions a statement given to The Daily Texan by APD public information officer Cpl. David Boyd. Davis could not be reached for comment.

Boyd told the Texan an official APD investigation could not proceed without first receiving a sworn statement from Davis. In the op-ed, Davis said the investigation was held up because the detective assigned to his case was out of the office. Davis said the detective assigned to his case could not speak for Boyd’s statement about needing to hear an official report from Davis. 

“Ultimately, the blame must be shared between The Daily Texan, UT’s Dr. Greg Vincent [vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement] and the APD for failing to be accurate in their interpretation of details and evidence from the case,” Davis said in the op-ed. “I would rather the case go cold from a dead end than public officials making quick and uninformed statements to hurriedly scoot the issue under the rug.”

Davis said whether or not the liquid used to fill the balloon was actually bleach is “irrelevant” to the larger issues that “encouraged” the attack. 

“The underlying issue is the cultural ignorance and insensitivity that encouraged these assaults in the first place,” Davis said. “When minorities in an area have historically been discriminated against and targeted because of the color of their skin then perpetrators of an attack had better consider how their prank or game might be perceived by the minority they intend on targeting.”

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Another student targeted in West Campus balloon attack