"He pulled out his burlap sack and then he had the rope and whatnot and then he started offering us bananas," said Jaylen Grimes, one of the demonstrators. "A lot of us didn't take it, but I just took (it) as a sign of peace offering and just to show him that just because he's being disrespectful towards me, I won't be disrespectful towards him."
As part of his counterprotest efforts, Rettke held up a sign that said "Lives Matter."
"He's just trying to get a reaction out of us that we're not going to give him. We're bigger than that," said one protestor who held a sign that read "Black Lives Matter (doesn't mean) all lives don't (matter).
Rettke, 18, was escorted from the protest by public safety officers and was later criminally charged by the Johson City Police Department.
Rettke told police he went to the event "in (an) attempt to provoke the protesters."
ETSU President Brian Noland held a press conference Wednesday after seeing video of the incident. He discussed the event during a "community dialogue" on campus.
"I was offended, but I was also saddened," Noland said, calling Rettke's actions "incomprehensible, intolerable and impermissible."
Rettke has been placed on interim suspension from the college.
In a statement, ETSU said Rettke's actions "go against the values" of the school and that the university is a place "where people come first and all are treated with dignity and respect."
The university applauded the protestors for remaining clam despite Rettke's actions.
"We are exceptionally proud of the students who were peacefully participating in the event and the manner in which they exercised restraint, thoughtfulness and strength in the face of inappropriate and offensive behavior," Noland said.
"Of course, it's hard to stay calm because they're doing it because they know they can get under your skin," Grimes told The Johnson City Press. "You've just got to have thicker skin and be the bigger person and just show that ignorance is not going to override your ability to be calm. Because being calm is a lot more difficult than reacting the way they want us to react, which is in a violent stereotypical black way. But we're not all like that."
"We hold no ill towards him," another student, Grant Madison said. "I added him on Facebook and want to speak with him about why he did it."
Earlier today during a student-led Black Lives Matter event at Borchuck Plaza, our campus community was outraged by the...
The event formerly known as Home World has a new name and new location.Get totally inspired for spring as you find hundreds of ways to improve your home. Make your home the one you really want. Show open daily duringmall hours. Admission is free!
Landscaping and Outdoors
Get ready for Spring and Summer and transform your outdoor space into something that feels like you’re on vacation
Make sure to visit our demonstration stage during the entire show. There will be exciting demonstrations on how to re-purpose and design thanks to Monarch Market Affair.
Meet Barry Williams from The Brady Bunch
Join us as we welcome Me-TV superstar Barry Williams who played the iconic Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch TV Show. Meet him and get an autograph on February 10th stage side at center court in front of Macy’s.
The line will start forming when the Mall Opens, and Barry’s First appearance will be at 11 a.m.
Come prepared with your camera or cell phone for the Meet and Greet.