Thunder Whistles for Austin’s Homeless
By Bettina Meier, KUT News
Six homeless people have been killed in Austin in the last 10 months. Those attacks and others led homeless advocates to hand out 1,000 whistles to people living on the streets downtown.
“Thunder whistles” sound on a different decibel than those used by the Austin Police Department. The advocacy group House the Homeless says these special, shrill whistles should attract police officers or bystanders to call for help if someone is attacked.
Twenty-eight-year-old Marcus Hardaway is currently without a place to call home. He says having a thunder whistle could have helped when he was attacked just a few weeks ago.
“I could have been killed and it was all for money. I was stripped of the clothes I was wearing. When I got away, I had to run down the street in just my boxers and call the cops from a payphone,” Hardaway says. “The whistle would have helped me because it would have gotten attention – at least [for] dogs to start barking and waking up kids, and I would have been helped.”
The APD says homeless crime makes up 38 percent of all violent crimes that occur downtown. Police are instructed to react if they hear a thunder whistle sound three times in a row.