Man wearing gorilla mask at Black Lives Matter protest charged with intimidation
A white student wearing a gorilla mask at a college Black Lives Matter protest was arrested on visit the next website Wednesday and charged with civil rights intimidation.
Tristan Rettke, 18, was also carrying a rope and several bananas. He's a freshman at East Tennessee State University.
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The student showed up to a BLM protest at a campus free speech zone, handing out bananas and sporting a sack emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag.
BLM protesters harassed by a white guy in a gorrilla mask w/ bananas, rope, and a confederate flag bag. Y'all mad at dude taking a knee tho pic.twitter.com/Zy5NxpiXv7
-- Julie (@home_skilletb) September 28, 2016
"I'm just supposed to look at this," says one black self-identified student who recorded Rettke at the protest. "If I punch him in his head, I'm gonna go to prison, right? But he can come out here and flaunt it in my face. He can come out and do that to me, right? This is the America we live in."
As the student focuses the camera on himself, the frame starts to shake.
Just in: mug shot of Tristan Rettke pic.twitter.com/YGeb41cfAT
-- Karissa Winstead (@KarissaManis) September 29, 2016
"My hands are shaking I'm so angry right now. This is what we live in, y'all."
After he was arrested, Rettke told police he was trying to incite the protesters.
"He was just trying to get a reaction out of us," Jaylen Grimes, who participated in the protest, told The East Tennessean, ETSU's campus newspaper. "If we would have lashed out violently, that would have been another problem and we would've all got in trouble ... and like I said, that's not why we're here."
The demonstration was organized at the school as part of a series of protests against recent fatal police shootings of black men in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The school quickly asked students to attend a "community dialogue" on Wednesday to talk about Rettke's harassment, free speech and racism on campus.
Racism on campus became a major issue throughout the United States late last year after black students at schools across the country held protests to address the issue following a series of racist incidents and protests at the University of Missouri.