Rep. Robert Pittenger sorry for saying Charlotte protesters 'hate white people'

A North Carolina congressman has apologized for saying the protesters in Charlotte "hate white people because white people are successful and they're not."

Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Republican, made the remarks in an interview with the BBC broadcast in the United Kingdom late Thursday.

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"The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger," Pittenger told the program, referring to the protesters in Charlotte. "They hate white people because white people are successful and they're not."

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The comments sparked an immediate backlash, with fellow North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield — a Democrat — calling the remarks "disgusting" and "appalling."

Around two hours after giving the interview, Pittenger tweeted: "My anguish led me to respond to a reporter's question in a way that I regret."

He claimed he was "quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV" and that his "intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African-Americans because of failed policies."

Pittenger represents North Carolina's 9th District, which includes southern parts of Charlotte. Protests broke out in the city following the police shooting of African-American man named Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday.

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Police say Scott was armed but his family has expressed doubt over that claim.

Even after Pittenger's apology, social media was alight with criticism.