Police arrested an East Tennessee State University student on Wednesday after he disrupted a Black Lives Matter protest by handing out bananas while wearing a gorilla mask.
Tristan Rettke, a freshman at the university, also reportedly had a bag emblazoned with a Confederate flag symbol and bunch of rope. He was charged with one count of civil rights intimidation for the on-campus incident, police told WCYB.
One of the Black Lives Matter demonstrators described the scene to the East Tenneseean, the school newspaper.
“I saw him come down the steps as a gorilla,” Jaylen Grimes said. “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.”
The East Tenneseean also tweeted a series of images showing the masked counterprotester at the event.
East Tennessee State University has launched an internal student-conduct investigation.
The school also released a statement on Facebook praising students for responding to the incident peacefully: