ETSU student arrested after wearing gorilla mask to Black Lives Matter protest
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — A student at East Tennessee State University has been arrested over disrupting a Black Lives Matter event on campus wearing a gorilla mask, carrying around noose wrapped bananas.
Media outlets report that Tristan Rettke was charged with one count of civil rights intimidation.
Witnesses took photos and video of the man walking up to demonstrators on Wednesday carrying a burlap sack that had a marijuana leaf and a Confederate battle flag printed on it.
Rettke told police that he went to the event to provoke protesters.
The university in a statement expressed outrage at Rettke’s conduct and commended students for exercising restraint in the face of offensive behavior.
“The actions of this one individual go against the values of our university where people come first and all are treated with dignity and respect,” the university posted on its Facebook page. “We are exceptionally proud of the students who were peacefully participating in the event and the manner in which they exercised restraint, thoughtfulness and strength in the face of inappropriate and offensive behavior.”