With all the blatant racism happening in America these days, it’s hard to tell if we’re living in 2016 or 1966.
African American students at East Tennessee State University know the feeling all too well, after having their peaceful Black Lives Matter protest interrupted by a white guy wearing a gorilla mask, carrying around a rope and trying to hand out bananas.
In a video that has since gone viral, the camera man thanks the protesters for staying peaceful while the racist continued taunting them. The young man who seemed to be leading the protest gracefully responded, “He’s just trying to get a reaction out of us that we’re not going to give him.”
Watch the video below!
According to reports, the gorilla mask wearing racist is ETSU freshman Tristan Rettke, and he’s being charged with one count of civil rights intimidation in connection with the incident that took place on Wednesday. The Johnson City Police Department in Tennessee says that Rettke told officers he bought the rope, bananas and gorillas mask on Tuesday then went to Wednesday’s protest “in attempt to provoke the protesters.”
East Tennessee State University officials released a statement, assuring the public the criminal charges are pending against Rettke saying:
“Earlier today (Sept. 28, 2016) 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. 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. The ETSU Department of Public Safety staff responded to the incident. At this time, criminal charges are pending before the local district attorney, and an internal student-conduct investigation has begun.
Our university values diversity, inclusivity and respect for others. In keeping with those values, there will be an opportunity for community dialogue tonight at 7 p.m. inside the D.P. Culp Auditorium. University leadership will be present.”
Shout out to the Black Lives Matter protesters for remaining graceful during such an intense moment.
Source: WBIR|PHOTOCREDIT: Getty, Instagram