A United States representative from North Carolina said in a television interview on Thursday that protesters in Charlotte “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” and then hours later recanted and apologized.
In response to an interviewer’s question about the demonstrators’ grievance, Mr. Pittenger said: “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.”
The comment drew criticism on social media.
Grier Martin, a Democrat who is a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, on Twitter called the comment “one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard.”
Within hours, Mr. Pittenger, 68, apologized and tried to explain himself in a series of posts on Twitter. He said his “anguish” about what was happening in Charlotte prompted him to respond to a question “in a way that I regret.”
He apologized and said he hoped “we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.” He added that he was trying to discuss a lack of economic mobility for African-Americans “because of failed policies.”
Mr. Pittenger appeared on CNN on Thursday night to defuse the criticism, but not all were convinced it was effective.