Tristan Rettke, a white student at East Tennessee University, was arrested for civil rights intimidation after wearing a gorilla mask at a Black Lives Matter protest. Rettke also handed out bananas with nooses tied around them to Black protestors who peacefully gathered Wednesday afternoon.
Local outlet WYCB reports:
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.
Rettke told investigators that his stunt was nothing more than an attempt to rile up protestors. However, most took the high road and ignored Rettke. A report from The Grio highlights that BLM supporters were united in not responding to Rettke’s racist antics.
“You’ve just got to have thicker skin and be the bigger person and just show that ignorance is not going to override your ability to be calm.,” said sophomore Jaelyn Grimes to the publication.
Photo: screen cap/WYCB