The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion ‘Student arrested by East Tennessee State University police for “Civil Rights Intimidation”‘

My blogging has been light for several days, and will be light for several more, because of the press of other business. But I wanted to pass along a pointer to the detailed and helpful analysis by Adam Steinbaugh (FIRE) of the East Tennessee State University incident:

Last week, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) freshman Tristan Rettke was arrested by campus police and charged with a felony under Tennessee’s Civil Rights Intimidation statute after confronting peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in the ETSU free speech area. Rettke’s act — dressing in a gorilla mask and attempting to hand bananas to the protesters in an attempt to “provoke” them — has to have been intended to be offensive. But, as the ACLU of Tennessee’s executive director observes, the First Amendment precludes the criminal charge against Rettke. It likewise would have precluded ETSU from formally disciplining Rettke had he not voluntarily withdrawn from the institution.