Republican North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger was forced to apologize for controversial comments he made in the wake of days of unrest in Charlotte after a black man was shot to death by police this week.
Pittenger explained to BBC News that Wednesday’s violent riots in the North Carolina city following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott were caused by black residents who were jealous of the success of white people.
"The grievance in the [protesters'] mind – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they're not," Pittenger said Thursday. Pittenger’s district includes part of the city where protests have broken out in recent days.
He then went on to criticize people who receive welfare. "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," he said, echoing the popular right-wing sentiment of a so-called "Democratic plantation."
"America is the opportunity of freedom and liberty," he continued. "We didn't become that way because we have great government, who provided everything for everyone. No. That's the destiny of America, the freedom to come to this country, why they're still coming to our shores is because they can take their work ethic and their hard effort and put up their capital and the risk and build out their lives."
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2016
After swift and widespread condemnation, Pittenger took to Twitter to apologize for his statements:
He also went on CNN to try to explain himself Thursday evening, saying he was quoting "comments that were made on air" by protesters."I was only trying to convey what they were saying and it didn't come out right," Pittenger told CNN's Don Lemon: