An East Tennessee State University student has been charged after attempting to provoke a peaceful demonstration by Black Lives Matter. Tristan Rettke was wearing a gorilla mask and was handing out bananas wrapped in a noose to the demonstrators.
Public safety officers took Rettke into custody before he caused further disruption in the BLM rally. He was then charged with one count of civil rights intimidation in connection with the demonstration that took place at Borchuck Plaza.
According to the Johnson City Press, the public safety office released a statement saying that the student’s actions “go against the values of our university where people come first and all are treated with dignity and respect.”
East Tennessee State University stated that Tristan Rettke has been placed on interim suspension. Criminal charges were also pending before the local district attorney with an internal student-conduct investigation underway.
Tristan Rettke Tried To Provoke Black Lives Matter Supporters
Rettke is currently a freshman in East Tennessee State who found out about the protest from Yik Yak. In his own testimony, he told police that he later went to the store and purchased the rope, bananas and the gorilla mask.
According to WCYB, eyewitnesses took photos and videos of Rettke’s disruptive actions during the Black Lives Matter demonstration. This included walking barefoot and carrying a burlap sack printed with a marijuana leaf and a Confederate flag.
East Tennessee State University officials put out a statement stating that they were outraged over Rettke’s actions. University President Brian Noland also held a press conference to speak out over what transpired on Wednesday.
“I was offended, but I was also saddened,” Noland said in response to the actions of one of the University’s students. He also praised the demonstrators for their peaceful rally and their careful handling of the situation.
Are the actions of Tristan Rettke a legitimate form of free speech and should be protected under the First Amendment? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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