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Gorilla-masked student disrupts Black Lives Matter protest

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on the campus of East Tennessee State University was disrupted Wednesday by a student in a gorilla costume, handing out bananas.

ETSU freshman Tristan Rettke was quickly taken into custody by campus police. Rettke later told officers that he was at the event to provoke protesters and was charged with one count civil rights intimidation.

According to police Rettke told officers he found out about the event on social media and decided to go to the store to buy rope, bananas and a gorilla mask.

"I really wanted to break down and cry," one protestor said. "But you can't. You can't do that. You have to be strong."

ETSU president Dr. Brian Noland praised students for how they responded.

"You could tell the students were upset, but they were calm," Dr. Noland said. "There was a sense of grace that was hard to describe. I do not know if I would have had the same temperament, patience - courage to respond as they did."

Read more at WCYB