On Thursday, United States Representative Robert Pittenger, whose district includes parts of Charlotte, said that demonstrators in the city are upset because, unlike the white people in his district, they are not successful.
Pittenger made the comments during an interview with BBC’s “Newsnight,” saying, “The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger. They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not. I mean, yes, it is, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage so they can’t be all that they are capable of being.”
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2016
The response to his statement was swift as the backlash washed over Pittenger from both social media and his peers.
Grier Martin, of the North Carolina House of Representatives, called the comment “one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard.”
Pittenger responded a few hours later and tried to explain himself. “Today, my anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret,” he tweeted. “I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”
“My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies,” he added.