US Rep. Robert Pittenger told BBC TV on Thursday that protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, "hate white people because white people are successful and they are not."
Pittenger, a Republican, has represented North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, which includes outer portions of Charlotte and some of the city's northern and eastern suburbs, since 2013. His comments come after two days of violent protests in Charlotte following the officer-involved death of Keith Lamont Scott.
When asked what protesters' grievances were on a BBC TV news program, Pittenger said: “The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”
"It is a welfare state," he said. "We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage, so they can’t be all they’re capable of being."
Pittenger apologized later Thursday in a statement after politicians and others took to social media to condemn the comments.
“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart,” he said in a statement issued by his office to the News & Observer. “My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret. The answer doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV.
"My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies. I apologize to those I offended and hope that we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”
He also tweeted a response, saying "My answer to BBC doesn't reflect who I am." Pittenger said again that he was quoting statements made by protesters on TV.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Honolulu.
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