ETSU student charged following gorilla mask incident at Black Lives Matter protest


An East Tennessee State University student was charged by police after he disrupted a Black Lives Matter event on campus by wearing a gorilla mask, carrying around a rope and trying to hand out bananas.

A Johnson City Police Department report said Tristan Rettke is charged with one count of civil rights intimidation in connection with the event that took place at Borchuck Plaza.

Eyewitnesses including the East Tennessean, the university's newspaper, took digital photos and filmed video of Rettke's actions, which including him walking up to protestors with a burlap sack that had a marijuana leaf and a Confederate flag printed on it.

The report said after his rights were read Rettke said he found out about the protest on the social media platform Yik Yak.

Rettke told officers that he went to the store on Tuesday and purchased the rope, bananas and the gorilla mask. The suspect then stated he went to the protest with no shoes on with coveralls "in attempt to provoke the protestors."

ETSU officials put out a statement saying they were outraged by Rettke's actions at the protest.

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