- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2016

A white student at East Tennessee State University was charged and suspended after he donned a gorilla mask and started handing out bananas at a Black Lives Matter rally on campus.

Police responded to a disorderly conduct call Wednesday at Borchuck Plaza, where a peaceful protest was taking place, local news station WJHL reported.

According to a Johnson City Police Department report, officers found the student, identified as Tristan Rettke, wearing blue jean overalls, a white T-shirt and a black gorilla mask, the station said.

According to video taken from the event, Mr. Rettke held a banana tied to a rope and dangled it in front of rally goers.

The student later told police that he was trying to provoke Black Lives Matter protesters, WJHL reported. He was charged with civil rights intimidation and taken to Washington County Detention Center.

ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland said Mr. Rettke is a freshman at the university. The university said he was placed on interim suspension.

“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,” ETSU officials posted on the school’s Facebook page. “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.”

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