North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger has apologized for saying that protesters who turned out after the fatal shooting of a black man in Charlotte, North Carolina, “hate white people.”
The Republican lawmaker, whose current House district includes a part of Charlotte, said in an interview with the BBC on Thursday that there was “nothing racial about what happened” when Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man, was shot Tuesday by an black police officer.
“Do you think an African-American chief of police or an African-American officer wants to degrade somebody from his own race?” he said. “Of course not.”
Talking about the protesters, the two-term congressman said, “They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”
Pittenger also spoke of the “welfare state.”
“We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, but we’ve put people in bondage so that they can’t be all that they’re capable of being,” he said.
Within hours, Pittenger was on Twitter, apologizing for his comments in a series of tweets.
“I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte,” he tweeted.
“My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African-Americans because of failed policies,” he wrote in another tweet.
Pittenger told his Twitter followers that his comments to the BBC “doesn’t reflect who I am.”
“My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret,” he said.
First elected in 2012, the Republican lawmaker barely won his primary in June, eking out a 133-vote victory over Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who played a significant role in the movement to ban same-sex marriage in the Tar Heel State.