Tennessee student arrested after wearing gorilla mask, handing out bananas at Black Lives Matter protest
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — A college freshman was arrested after going to a Black Lives Matter protest on campus wearing a gorilla mask and handing out bananas, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Tristan Rettke, an 18-year-old student at East Tennessee State University, wore overalls and a gorilla mask to the protest. He held a burlap sack with a Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf on it and offered bananas to student protesters.
He was arrested Wednesday and charged with civil rights intimidation.
Rettke told police the stunt was an attempt to provoke the protesters.
In a video posted on social media, the protesters appear to be trying to ignore Rettke, although one protester says on the video that his hands are shaking with anger. A woman at the protest called police.
ETSU president Brian Noland sent a message to campus Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“Earlier today during a student-led Black Lives Matter event at Borchuck Plaza, our campus community was outraged by the behavior of one student who confronted the participants. 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.
“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.