CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Congressman Robert Pittenger is apologizing after he "became aware that one of his answers [on a BBC interview] had caused offense."
During the interview Thursday, the host asked Pittenger (NC-09) about the riots that have broken out in Charlotte for the past couple of night after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. Scott was shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer and later died.
"The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they're not," Pittenger said. ""It is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, but we've put people in bondage, so they can't be all that they're capable of being."
Pittenger was immediately criticized on social media after BBC Newsnight tweeted video of that portion of his interview.
This evening, Congressman Pittenger became aware that one of his answers had caused offense, and he issued this heartfelt response:
"What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. 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," Pittenger said. "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."
Wednesday night, Pittenger called for African-American pastors and leaders to "rise to this challenge and speak with a sound system to this group of protestors, calling for restraint and to be respectful in their protest."
"Martin Luther King would be proud of that kind of thoughtful discourse and leadership," he continued. "The violence and looting is counterproductive."