A student at East Tennessee State University was filmed on Wednesday trying to hand out noose-wrapped bananas to Black Lives Matter demonstrators on campus.
In doing so, freshman Tristan Rettke went against the values of the school that state “people come first and all are treated with dignity and respect.” He was therefore arrested by campus police on a charge of civil rights intimidation.
Rettke was wearing a gorilla mask, overalls and was seen walking around barefoot. He had apparently found out about the protests through a social media app and came out to provoke the protesters. As he came in contact with BLM demonstrators, the man pulled out a banana from a bag that had a marijuana leaf and a Confederate flag printed on it.
The university president has praised protesters for handling the situation and not rising to the bait.
“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,” university officials said.
The university’s Facebook page also had a post up about the incident.
“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,” student Jaelyn Grimes said.
For now, Rettke has been placed on interim suspension.
Racial discrimination against the black community has been on the rise, and the recent killings of African-Americans across the country have led to protests in Charlotte and other parts of the United States.
At a time when emotions are already running high, Rettke’s absurd actions could have caused a big disturbance on the campus.