AUSTIN, Texas – Suddenly, the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan doesn’t feel as fun anymore.
The beloved local motto, repeated with equal pride by students, self-proclaimed slackers, 20-something tech hotshots and expensive lobbyists — is not considered to be applicable to something as sinister as the series of deadly recent bombings.
The blasts have sent a deep chill through a hipster city that’s known for warm weather, live music, bbq, and, above all, not taking itself too seriously.
Could all of that Austin, whose population and economy booming, the politically liberal, and of which the diversity is rich more likely to be targeted? No one knows for sure.
The police in the Texas capital are still looking for a motive for the five bombings that killed two people and severely injured four others since March 2. The blasts have struck several locations, which allows the detection of a pattern difficult.
The first three explosives were hidden in packages left on the doorstep, while a bomb that went off Sunday was a more advanced tripwire. Another package exploded Tuesday at a FedEx processing facility in Schertz, about 60 miles from Austin, near San Antonio.
Investigators say the explosion could be acts of terrorism or any hate crimes since the victims of the first attack were all black and Hispanic, although the two men injured Sunday by the explosion were white.
The package sent via FedEx, came from Austin and was on the road back to Austin address, but the authorities have not published details about where it was going.
“For us, it’s personal. This is our home,” Police chief Brian Manley said Tuesday. He noted that many crime statistics still rank Austin among the nation’s safest cities.
“We are facing a big challenge, and we get through this,” Manley said. “We don’t want to lose, in the midst of all this, is that we are still a safe city.”
The population has grown from less than 800,000 in 2010 to almost 930,000 two years ago, according to the census figures and city estimates. Factor in the suburbs that sprawled in the past, Austin’s northern and southern borders and the growth is even faster. The expansion has fed by an increasingly large Hispanic community, which has helped to make Austin more and more diverse.
Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, was originally proposed it was no coincidence that the first two blasts struck the victims with ties to people who are active in Austin for the black community. But Sunday’s explosion involved a tripwire along a public path that can get tangled anyone. Now the entire city is watching closely.
“It was the attention of everyone,” Linder said. “No one is safe.”
Austin is also a liberal bastion, like the blue hole in the middle of the highly conservative red ring of Texas. The county sheriff even campaigned and won on promises not to honor all requests from the federal government when they say that people who are trapped on non-immigration charges, such as drunk driving, be held longer for a possible deportation.
Last year, in response, the GOP-controlled state Legislature approved one of the nation’s toughest laws against so-called sanctuary cities, empowering state and local police to inquire about immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops. The law prompted the sheriff to change policy.
Austin’s economic rise is anchored by a thriving tech sector with companies such as Dell, Samsung and Apple. Facebook and Google also have offices here, and there is a chance of Amazon coveted HQ2 would come.
Ken Herman, Austin American-Statesman columnist with a wicked dry sense of humor that lived in the city since 1979, except for five years when he worked in Washington, surprised by the question why.
“There is a lot of new people who come to the city, and maybe they’re not accepted for some reason — although this is a fairly accepting community, even if you’re from California,” Herman said. “It could be someone who says,” Austin is no longer what it was before.’ Who knows? That’s what’s so cruel.”
Austin has endured dark times before. It Was still a sleepy college town in August of 1966, when Marine-trained sniper Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the bell tower of the University of Texas campus and opened fire in an attack that the introduction of the Americans on the idea of a massive shooting.
Still, the bombings are not afraid of people to stay at home or disrupted daily routines. Two bombs exploded during the South By Southwest festival last week, but the blasts were far from the main attractions. A PGA golf tournament begins Wednesday at the western edge of the place, also removed from a blast site.
Austin is also the home of the UT campus, one of america’s largest universities, with approximately 50,000 students. Fall football games draw 100,000 fans. But no bombs are already placed in the near of the university, and they have also spared the city’s tech and entertainment districts.
Instead of the explosions have hit inconspicuous suburban areas can be areas everywhere.
Noel Holmes lives in a where Sunday’s bombing happened. They said that the attack left her and many others shaking their heads.
“I hope someone turns this person in,” Holmes said. “Or that a serial bomber will find another neighborhood to the fear of God.”