A congressman has apologized for his eye-raising comments about the protesters in Charlotte during a TV interview Thursday, but that's hardly quelling accusations of racism. Asked about the protesters, Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger—who represents North Carolina's ninth congressional district, which covers parts of Charlotte—told BBC Newsnight that "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," per the New York Times.
Criticism was swift on social media, with many urging voters to ensure Pittenger, 68, isn't re-elected in November. North Carolina State Rep. Grier Martin, a Democrat, said the comment was "one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard" and that he was "ashamed to have served with this fool" in the North Carolina General Assembly. Pittenger countered that he had intended "to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies." He later told CNN he was "quoting" protesters who appeared on CNN on Wednesday. "It didn't come out right, and I apologize. I have many, many good friends in the African-American community," he said.