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Jury finds gorilla-masked ETSU student not guilty of civil rights intimidation

Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press • Jul 17, 2019 at 3:22 PM

A Washington County jury Wednesday acquitted a former East Tennessee State University student of civil rights intimidation charges resulting from his gorilla-masked appearance at a campus Black Lives Matter rally in 2016.

Tristan Rettke also was found not guilty of disorderly conduct, but the all-white jury did convict him of on the misdemeanor charge of disruption of a meeting.

Rettke showed up at the Sept. 26, 2016, rally where other students had gathered to display signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans used during a time when several encounters between police and black men across the nation ended in fatal shootings. One sign at the rally said “Remember Them” and had the names of 14 African-Americans who had deadly encounters with police in the months prior to the ETSU rally.

For more on this story, visit the Johnson City Press.