Robert Pittenger slammed over Charlotte protests remark

Congressman Robert Pittenger apologises for his comments against Charlotte protesters after drawing heavy criticism.

Robert Pittenger
Pittenger later released a statement apologising for what he said, but was widely condemned [Reuters]

A US congressman has come under fire after accusing protesters rallying against the police killing of a black man of “hating white people”, because “white people are successful”.

Republican politician Robert Pittenger told the BBC show Newsnight late on Thursday that people protesting against the killing of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte – the latest US city to be shaken by protests over the death of a black man at the hands of police – were doing so because they “hate white people”.

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“The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people, because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger, who represents the Charlotte area, told Newsnight when asked about what was driving the protests.

Charlotte police have said that Scott was shot dead on Tuesday by a black officer after he disregarded loud, repeated warnings to drop a gun. Neighbours, though, have said that he was holding only a book, and that the officer who killed him was white. The police chief said a gun was found next to the dead man, and there was no book.

In the Newsnight interview, Pittenger also complained that the government had spent too much on welfare programmes that ultimately hold black people back.

“It is a welfare state,” he said. “We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage, so they can’t be all that they’re capable of being.”

Pittenger later released a statement apologising for what he said but faced fierce criticism from fellow members of Congress, as well as his constituents.

George Kenneth Butterfield, a congressman for North Carolina, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, slammed Pittenger on Twitter saying his “constituents deserve better.”

Criticism also came from other politicians in North Carolina.

Others blamed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has been accused of promoting racism, bigotry and misogyny, for worsening race relations in the country.

According to a tally being kept by The Guardian media organisation, police have killed at least 194 black Americans so far this year. In all of 2015, police killed at least 306 black men.

The figures from 2016 suggest that while black Americans make up around 13 percent of the population, they make up about 25 percent of those killed by police.

Source: Al Jazeera