Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) on Thursday said people are protesting in Charlotte, N.C., because they “hate white people” and that welfare is holding them back from being successful.
“They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger said in an interview with “BBC Newsnight.” “I mean, yes, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions on welfare — we have put people in bondage, so that they can’t be all that they’re capable of being. “
“You know America is a country of freedom and liberty,” he added. “It didn’t become that way because of a great government who provided everything for everyone.”
Protests erupted in Charlotte Wednesday night following the fatal shooting of a black man at the hands of police. The demonstrations reportedly started out peaceful until a man was shot and critically wounded in what police say was a confrontation with another civilian.
Pittenger later issued a statement to apologize for the remark and said he was quoting protesters he saw on TV.
“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart," he said. "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 protestors 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 we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”