Attorney seeks to dismiss charges against former ETSU student accused of civil rights intimidation

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A motion to dismiss charges including civil rights intimidation against a former East Tennessee State University student who dressed in a gorilla mask and carried bananas to a Black Lives Matter rally this past fall was filed in the case earlier this month.

According to court documents, Tristan Rettke was charged with civil rights intimidation, disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting or procession in connection to the incident Sept. 28.

On that day Rettke showed up to the rally being held in the “designated free speech zone” on campus, according to the motion to dismiss, with the mask, bananas, rope and a burlap sack emblazoned with a Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf.

Rettke also displayed a sign with the words “Lives Matter.”

Rettke’s attorney argued that the violations with which he was charged “are all effectively unconstitutional infringements of the Defendant’s own speech that is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution… .”

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