— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2016
Robert Pittenger, a U.S. Representative from North Carolina, thinks he has figured out why the protestors in North Carolina are so angry. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Pittenger said he believes black protestors in his home state are taking to the streets because they “hate white people.” Pittenger, whose district encompasses Charlotte where the protests are occurring, didn’t seem to realize that these protests had anything to do with the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. He simply felt the grievances were because white people have it better than blacks:
“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.”
Pittenger’s comments caused an immediate backlash, with many people saying they were inappropriate to make at such a tense time. North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said that during a time when the state needs unity, Pittenger’s comments only made the situation worse:
“These comments are inexcusable. At a time when we need calm and understanding while we learn more about the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, Congressman Pittenger is fanning the flames of hate with his racist rhetoric. This sort of bigotry has become all too common under the party of Donald Trump. Our great state should not be represented by someone who would make such hateful comments.”
And just like clockwork, Pittenger took to his social media account to apologize. He said African-Americans were protesting due to failed policies and regretted making his comments:
Whether or not he intended to make that point is up for debate, but his comments to the BBC couldn’t have come at a worse time. The protests in North Carolina are still ongoing, and Pittenger’s comments only added more fuel to the fire.