What was he arrested for? Was he violent? Threatening? No. Wait on it
(Washington Post) An East Tennessee State University student was arrested Wednesday after going to a Black Lives Matter protest on campus wearing a gorilla mask and handing out bananas.
Tristan Rettke, an 18-year-old freshman, wore overalls and a gorilla mask and, wandering barefoot while holding a burlap sack with a Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf on it, offered bananas to students who were protesting, according to a report by ETSU police. He was arrested and charged with civil rights intimidation.
BLM protesters harassed by a white guy in a gorrilla mask w/ bananas, rope, and a confederate flag bag. Y'all mad at dude taking a knee tho pic.twitter.com/Zy5NxpiXv7
— Julez (@home_skilletb) September 28, 2016
Essentially, he was charged with Wrongthink. Per state code. Because Tennessee does, in fact, have a statute over civil rights intimidation.
39-17-309. Civil rights intimidation.
(a) The general assembly finds and declares that it is the right of every person regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion or national origin, to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and bodily injury caused by the activities of groups and individuals. It is not the intent of this section to interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the constitution of the United States. The general assembly recognizes the constitutional right of every citizen to harbor and express beliefs on any subject whatsoever and to associate with others who share similar beliefs. The general assembly further finds that the advocacy of unlawful acts by groups or individuals against other persons or groups for the purpose of inciting and provoking damage to property and bodily injury or death to persons is not constitutionally protected, poses a threat to public order and safety, and should be subject to criminal sanctions.
Rettke did not threaten nor injure anyone. No, feelings do not count for injury. Well, in today’s society, perhaps they do. They are probably looking at “coerces another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another from the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee;”. And it is a violation to wear a mask while “coercing.’ So, Wrongthink because some had their feelings hurt.
How, in any way, is this Constitutional? This all occurred in a “free speech area” of the campus. That’s right, there is actually a free speech area at a government funded school of higher education.
Let’s note that Rettke was being a jerk. It’s a big old “come on, man, seriously?” moment. I do not condone this action in the least. What, exactly, was the point in doing this other than to be a jerk? But, being a jerk in this manner is no excuse for arrest. He did not threaten anyone, nor hit anyone. He was exercising his 1st Amendment Right to protest peaceably and engage in free speech.
He’s still a jerk, though.
Crossed at Right Wing News.