A student was arrested for wearing a gorilla mask and handing out bananas at a "Black Lives Matter" protest at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City on Sept. 28 (video below).
According to a ETSU Department of Public Safety report, police came to the area on a disorderly conduct call and arrested Tristan Rettke, notes WJHL.
Rettke reportedly told the officers that he heard about the Black Lives Matter protest on the social media site Yik Yak, and went to a store where he purchased the gorilla mask and a rope to tie the bananas on Sept. 27.
According to the East Tennessean, Rettke was barefoot and held a sign that read: "Lives Matter."
Rettke told police that he pulled the stunt, which also included a sack with a Confederate flag, in an effort to provoke the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, reports WJHL.
The freshman was arrested, taken to the Washington County Detention Center, and charged with civil rights intimidation.
On Sept. 28, ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland called Rettke’s actions "incomprehensible, intolerable and impermissible" at a news conference. He also praised the Black Lives Matter students who "rose above hatred."
Some students gathered on campus that night to start a healing process, and share their feelings on racism.
Jaylen Grimes, a student demonstrator, told the East Tennessean:
I saw him come down the steps as a gorilla. He pulled out his burlap sack and then he had the rope and whatnot and then he started offering us bananas. A lot of us didn’t take it, but I just took as a sign of peace offering and just to show him that, just because he’s being disrespectful towards me, I won’t be disrespectful towards him.
He was just trying to get a reaction out of us. 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. We were here as peaceful (demonstrators), so we had to remain as such.