CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After days of unrest, tensions appeared to subside in Charlotte Thursday night.
Instead of looting, demonstrators opted to embrace the National Guard with song. But controversy still managed to rear its ugly head amid the instability.
During an interview with the BBC, North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger, a Republican whose district includes parts of Charlotte, attempted to make sense of the intention of demonstrators, who were protesting the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by police officers.
“What is their grievance in their mind?” the congressman was asked.
He answered: “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 remark drew intense criticism with some likening the congressman to white supremacists.
Met with calls to resign, Pittenger later apologized for the remarks but the damage was already done.
“I'm hurt by what is taking place and frankly I apologize for the comments,” he told Don Lemmon on CNN late Thursday. “They certainly were not meant in the context of how many have viewed them. My concern, frankly, is for the disenfranchised individuals.”
Pittenger’s shocking remarks come as officials in North Carolina try to get a handle on the turmoil keeping Charlotte residents on edge and a midnight curfew enforced.
With newly released footage of Scott’s final moments surfacing Friday, officials say they expect tensions to rise once more.