North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger has apologized after saying that Charlotte protesters "hate white people because white people are successful," NBC News is reporting.
Pittenger made the remarks Thursday night, speaking to BBC Newsnight.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2016
"The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger. They hate white people because white people are successful and they're not."
Pittenger then went on to blame the "welfare state" for the problems in the black community, according to Huffington Post, saying the government has spent trillions on welfare, only to put people in "bondage."
Almost immediately, Pittenger's comments drew backlash, both from other lawmakers in North Carolina as well as nationwide. In a statement, the North Carolina Democratic Party called the Congressman's remarks "inexcusable" and "blatant racism."
"This sort of bigotry has become all too common under the party of Donald J. Trump. Our great state should not be represented by someone who would make such hateful comments."
Soon after making the remarks, Pittenger took to Twitter and apologized, saying he was quoting from words he had heard protesters in Charlotte saying. Further, he explained, he was trying to make a larger point about how difficult it is for poor blacks to move up in society because of failed social welfare policies.
I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.
— Rep Robert Pittenger (@reppittenger) September 22, 2016
This is not the first time that Robert Pittenger has made eyebrow-raising statements. Back in 2014, as the Charlotte Observer reported at the time, Pittenger compared the right of businesses to hire and fire gay people for being gay to smoking bans, saying that firing gay people is a "freedom we enjoy."
Back in Charlotte, protests continue three days after the death of Keith Lamont Scott.
As NBC News reported at the time, Charlotte police say that officers were sent to the Village at College Downs complex near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in order to find a person -- not Scott -- with an outstanding arrest warrant. Scott, who had been sitting in his car near the apartment complex, apparently exited the car. He was holding a gun, says Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Police Chief Kerr Putney.
Officers commanded him to drop the gun; he refused.
"The officers gave loud, clear, verbal commands which were also heard by many of the witnesses."
Scott failed to comply, says Putney, and officers responded with lethal force. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
NEW: Keith Lamont Scott's family has viewed the police video from the day of shooting: https://t.co/lkDUB7tLB7 pic.twitter.com/wXpddBYizd
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 22, 2016
Scott's family disputes the official version of events, according to NBC News. They claim that Scott was disabled and unarmed, and reading a book, not holding a gun (although police say no book was found near the scene of his death). Putney, however, says that a gun was found near his body.
"If there's an encounter [and] you go down and the weapon is right there, it's kind of obvious a weapon was involved, even though I didn't visually see it from my angle."
Justin Bamberg, a lawyer for the Scott family, says that video of the shooting clearly shows that Scott exited his vehicle in a "very calm, non-aggressive manner" when ordered to do so by the police and that he was walking backwards when he was shot.
"It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands."
Do you believe Robert Pittenger's remarks about the Charlotte protests are racist?
[Featured Image by Sean Rayford/Getty Images]