ESPN pundit blames 'extremist right-wing agitators' for derailing protests


At least one ESPN talking head is decidedly not playing both sides.

Max Kellerman, one of the featured pundits on the sport network's "First Take" morning program, turned heads on Tuesday morning while discussing Black Lives Matters protests.

The veteran hot-taker purveyor said not only are the great majority of demonstrations peaceful, but the few that devolve into riots or conflict with authorities are usually the fault of "extremist right-wing agitators."

"Ninety-three percent of the protests are peaceful," Kellerman said. "The vast, overwhelming majority are peaceful. And by the way, the 7 percent that are not, they have a very broad definition of what is not 'peaceful.' For example, if you block traffic or something like that, or if you respond to a police provocation.

"And even then, a big percentage of that, that wasn't peaceful, is actually extremist agitators -- extremist right-wing agitators -- posing as protesters to make the protests look bad."

Kellerman was responding specifically to UFC fighter Colby Covington, a vocal supporter of President Trump who has been critical of LeBron James recently. Covington reportedly received a congratulatory phone call from Trump after winning his Saturday night bout, before renewing his attacks on James.

While most protests have been peaceful, some have been derailed by nefarious actors into chaotic and sometimes even fatal showdowns involving law enforcement and counter-protesters.

Protest supporters say the harrowing scenes have been a regular fixture of news coverage, while peaceful protests go on without notice.

It was unclear where Kellerman got his figures, though there was at least one high-profile case that would back up his assertion of provocateurs acting in bad faith to disrupt protests.

Minneapolis police in July identified a man who they said was responsible for vandalizing an area AutoZone store in the first days of protests after the killing of George Floyd by a former police officer.

The act was caught on video by protesters and the suspect dubbed "Umbrella Man" by social media users, touching off a weeks-long investigation of his identity.

Professional athletes have been active in protests, and in many cases led them. Terrell Owens led a march in support of Colin Kaepernick in June, and Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was arrested at a protest outside the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, to name just a couple.

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