How the idea of 'outside agitators' is used to discredit protest movements : Code Switch As protests continue to rock the campuses of colleges and universities, a familiar set of questions is being raised: Are these protests really being led by students? Or are the real drivers of the civil disobedience outsiders, seizing on an opportunity to wreak chaos and stir up trouble?

Why the trope of the 'outside agitator' persists

Why the trope of the 'outside agitator' persists

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Illustration of a rally where "peaceful protesters" march alongside "violent looters." LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

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LA Johnson/NPR

Illustration of a rally where "peaceful protesters" march alongside "violent looters."

LA Johnson/NPR

As protests continue to rock the campuses of colleges and universities, a familiar set of questions is being raised: Are these protests really being led by students? Or are the real drivers of the civil disobedience outsider agitators, seizing on an opportunity to wreak chaos and stir up trouble?

Today on the show, we're looking at how the trope of the outside agitator has been wielded at different moments throughout U.S. history, from the civil rights movement to the 2020 protests for racial justice that sprang up in response to the murder of George Floyd.

This episode was hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby. It was edited by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Leah Donnella. The original episode was produced by Jess Kung, and the rerun was produced by Xavier Lopez.

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