Gorilla-masked man’s intimidation charges could be dismissed

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A former East Tennessee State University student accused of civil rights intimidation during a Black Lives Matter demonstration could have the charges dismissed.

The Johnson City Press reported Sunday the ex-student’s attorney filed a motion last week to have his charges dismissed.

The 19-year-old was a freshman when he attended the September 2016 rally at a free-speech zone on campus. He was wearing a gorilla mask, overalls and carrying a burlap sack with a Confederate flag. He also dangled a banana with a rope around it in the air while offering bananas to demonstrators.

Tristan Rettke was arrested by ETSU police and charged with civil rights intimidation.

The motion filed by Rettke’s attorney, Patrick Denton, says the statutes Rettke was charged under are the same ones that protect the free speech he was exhibiting.

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