An East Tennessee State University student was arrested by Police on Wednesday after he disrupted a Black Lives Matter protest.
The young man, Tristan Rettke was a freshman at the university and went to the protest wearing a Gorilla mask and handing out bananas. He also carried a bag that had a Confederate flag drown on the side and a bunch of rope. He was charged with one count of civil rights intimidation for the on-campus incident.
Rettke told police after he had been arrested that he’d heard about the protest a few days earlier. He promptly bought the mask, rope, and bananas with the intention of provoking the Black Lives Matter protesters.
One of the protesters described what happened to the school newspaper, he said “I saw him come down the stairs as a gorilla, he pulled out his burlap sack and then he had the rope and whatnot and then he started offering us bananas. A lot of us didn’t take it, but I just took as a sign of peace offering and just to show him that, just because he’s being disrespectful towards me, I won’t be disrespectful towards him.”
East Tennessee State University has launched an internal student-conduct investigation and confirmed that Rettke had been suspended as well.
Another protester, Trevor King said “Seeing somebody blatantly disrespect people in that manner … I’ve never had someone to my face be disrespectful like that, so it was just new to me. It was hard for me to keep my calm, but everybody and the support that’s what kept me calm.”