As violence continues to engulf American cities, progressive politicians are desperately looking for a scapegoat. With centrists in both parties recoiling at what they see on the news at night, the Antifa enablers need to blame someone for the fires they set for political gain. And they want to pin it on the President.

Following the George Floyd tragedy, political hitmen stoked racial tensions in hopes of extracting a political toll on Trump. And for a while, their strategy looked like it would succeed. But peaceful protests turned into violent rampages, often instigated by professional rabble-rousers and outsiders looking for a fight. Homes and businesses have been vandalized, neighborhoods turned to rubble, and too many people hurt or killed.

Riots have racked cities across the country and the destruction has been indiscriminate. Even the Kenosha Dinosaur Discovery Museum — an innocuous target if ever there was one — was not spared the wrath of the rioters in Wisconsin. Yet, progressive leaders in city after city sit on the sidelines — or worse, partake in the destruction. Just two weeks ago, a state senator was indicted for vandalism that took place in Portsmouth, Virginia.

This escalation is no coincidence. It has been encouraged by far-left politicians in hope of extracting a political toll on President Trump, and anyone who says otherwise is engaging in serious gaslighting.

Take for example, Ted Wheeler, the Democrat mayor of Portland, Oregon. For the better part of the past three months, Wheeler has allowed nightly riots to take place, doing next to nothing to prevent the destruction of federal buildings, police stations, and businesses throughout his city.

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When the White House sent in federal agents to protect government property and tamp down the violence just a few weeks ago, Wheeler finally spoke up — on behalf of the rioters. He kowtowed to the mob and demanded that the federal officers leave the city, which they did at the President’s direction. Of course, that didn’t satisfy Antifa. The violence continues and is escalating. Just recently, things got out of hand and a counter-protester was gunned down in the street.

Instead of working with the President and the federal government to get things under control, progressive politicians are doubling down. They are now claiming that somehow the President is responsible for the riots. This is little more than a cynical attempt to downplay their role in appeasing the rioters and shift the blame. At the same time, the media are desperately trying to downplay the level of destruction, thereby aiding and abetting the politicians in their goal of avoiding accountability. Indeed, one CNN reporter was talking about the “peaceful protests” as a store was going up in flames in the background. All of this finger-pointing has Americans of all stripes exhausted.

The irony is that much of the damage is taking place in working class neighborhoods and in communities of color. It’s not the “limousine liberals” who will pay the price for destruction in our cities. Members of Antifa can drive their electric cars back to the suburbs and safely go to sleep in their parents’ basements. Rather, it is inner-city families who face even greater challenges when their local Walmarts and Walgreens are looted and closed, leaving an urban desert devoid of supermarkets and pharmacies.

The recent string of killings — George Floyd and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Laquan MacDonald in Chicago and far too many others — should upset us. We should all be demanding change — but through peaceful protest rather than through violence.

Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once remarked, “never let a crisis go to waste.” In the tragic death of George Floyd, Trump’s opponents saw both a crisis and an opportunity. Now, with the situation spinning out of control, they are facing the repercussions of their political drive-by hit job.

But Americans are not dumb. We see what’s going on and who is truly to blame. After all, who are people more likely to believe? Mayors and the media, or their own eyes?

David Safavian is the General Counsel of the American Conservative Union and the Director of the Nolan Center for Justice Reform.