logo



UPDATE: Jury selected in gorilla mask case, VIDEO: Prayer at ETSU racial intimidation trial

Becky Campbell • Updated Jul 15, 2019 at 2:15 PM

UPDATE:

Opening statements will begin within the hour for a former East Tennessee State University student accused of civil rights intimidation during a Black Lives Matter rally on campus three years ago.

Tristan Rettke, now 20, 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 volatile 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.

Rettke was wearing a gorilla mask and carrying bananas to the rally, He also had a burlap bag with the Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf emblazoned on it. He was charged with civil rights intimidation, free from exercise; civil rights intimidation, because of exercise; disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting or procession.

Assistant District Attorney Erin McArdle and defense attorney Patrick Denton spent the morning and a short time after lunch selecting a 14-person jury. A total of 12 people were stricken from the jury during that questioning period, including the one black person called to the box.

As a former military man, he said he believed firmly in the Constitution and said there is a time and place for free speech.

Free speech, a guarantee in the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights is the foundation of the case.

Senior Reporter Becky Campbell is live tweeting the trial. Follow her on Twitter @CampbellinCourt.

———-

Reported earlier:

Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle prays with members of Black Lives Matter before Tristan Rettke's racial intimidation trial at the Jaynes Justice Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, Monday, July 15, 2019.

Rettke showed up at a Sept. 26, 2016, Black Lives Matter rally at East Tennessee State University where other students had gathered to display signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans used during a volatile 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.

Rettke was wearing a gorilla mask and carrying bananas to the rally, He also had a burlap bag with the Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf emblazoned on it. He was charged with civil rights intimidation, free from exercise; civil rights intimidation, because of exercise; disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting or procession.

Senior Reporter Becky Campbell is covering the trial in Jonesborough.

Johnson City Press Videos