The "outside agitator" trope

Over the weekend, large-scale demonstrations erupted in cities across the United States in protest of the senseless killing of George Floyd by a police officer. As some protests descended into violence and looting, several local and national officials blamed the uprising on "outside agitators." This explanation is a gross oversimplification with an ugly racial history. It has been used repeatedly to marginalize real grievances and to ignore systemic racism.

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