JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The attorney for a former Eastern Tennessee State University student says his client was acting within his First Amendment rights when police say he disrupted an on-campus Black Lives Matter rally while wearing a gorilla mask and carrying a rope and bananas.
News outlets report Patrick Denton, attorney for 19-year-old Tristan Rettke, said during a hearing Tuesday he’s working on a motion to challenge the law used to bring a civil rights intimidation charge against Rettke.
Rettke also faces disorderly conduct and disruption of a meeting or procession charges.
The charges stem from a September 2016 incident in which he showed up at a Black Lives Matter event wearing the mask. He told police he wanted to provoke protesters.
Denton says he intends to take the case to trial.