This might literally be the oldest trick in the book. I'm thinking powerful people have been doing this to protesters and activists since the days when getting gored by a mammoth was a leading cause of death. It plays out like this:
A) A certain group has a complaint -- they're being discriminated against, had their benefits cut, whatever -- but they are not the majority.
B) Because the majority is not affected, they are largely ignorant and uninterested in what is going on with the complainers. The news media does not cover their issue, because it's bad for ratings.
C) To get the majority's attention, the group with the complaint will gather in large numbers to chant and block traffic, etc. This forces the media to cover the demonstration (since huge, loud groups of people make for good photos and video) and cover the issue in the process (since part of covering the protest involves explaining what is being protested). In America we've seen this tactic used by everyone from impoverished war veterans, to women seeking the right to vote, to the protests about police violence you're seeing all over the news right now.
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"Can you do that again? My lens cover was on."
D) To counter this, all you need to do is simply wait for a member of the activist group -- any member -- to commit a crime. Then the media will focus on the crime, because riots and broken glass make for even more exciting photos and videos than the demonstrations. The majority -- who fears crime and instability above all else -- will then hopefully associate the movement with violence from then on.