WJHL, September 28, 2016
A peaceful protest on East Tennessee State University’s campus Wednesday afternoon was disrupted when a man wearing a gorilla mask showed up and started handing out bananas to students holding Black Lives Matter signs.
An ETSU Department of Public Safety report said officers responded to a disorderly conduct call at Borchuck Plaza, where a Black Lives Matter event was taking place.
According to the report, when police arrived they saw a man–later identified as Tristan Rettke–wearing blue jean overalls, a white T-shirt and a black gorilla mask.
Police said Rettke had a rope and bananas, which he was holding out to the students that were protesting.
Rettke was then identified, detained and taken to the Public Safety Office.
According to the report, Rettke said a couple of days ago he saw on Yik Yak–a social media site–that a Black Lives Matter event was happening in the Free Speech area of Borchuck Plaza.
Rettke told police he then went to the store Tuesday, where he bought a rope to tie a bunch of bananas to, and also purchased a gorilla mask.
According to the report, Rettke said he wore the gorilla mask, had a bunch of bananas hanging from a rope, was carrying a burlap sack with a rebel flag with a marijuana leaf on it to try to provoke Black Lives Matter protesters.
Rettke was charged with civil rights intimidation after discussion by public safety supervisors, campus administration and the District Attorney General’s office.
Rettke was arrested and taken to Washington County Detention Center.
ETSU officials confirmed that the man in the gorilla mask was a student and said he was placed on interim suspension.