Congressman Robert Pittenger attends the Billy Graham birthday party on November 7, 2013 in Asheville, NC
Alicia Funderburk/Getty Images

A North Carolina Congressman went on a BBC-TV news program Thursday and said that the protests in Charlotte, NC, stem from the fact that the protesters "hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

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U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) represents a district that includes parts of Charlotte that have had violent protests in response to the Sept. 20 fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Pittenger made the remarks in response to being asked by the news program to describe the grievances of the protesters.

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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 said

Pittenger also criticized welfare recipients. "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 they’re capable of being.”

Pittenger apologized for the remarks hours later via his Twitter account.

Pittenger said that his answer to BBC doesn't reflect who he is, and that he was "quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV."

In a statement issued by his office, Pittenger said:

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“What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret. The answer doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies. I apologize to those I offended and hope that we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”

Kimberly Reynolds, executive director of the NC Democratic Party said, “These comments are inexcusable. At a time when we need calm and understanding while we learn more about the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, Congressman Pittenger is fanning the flames of hate with his racist rhetoric. This sort of bigotry has become all to common under the party of Donald Trump. Our great state should not be represented by someone who would make such hateful comments.

For its part, the NC GOP issued a news release that placed the blame for the protests on NAACP leader William Barber saying that Barber encouraged violence by demanding the release of police video footage showing the shooting of Scott.

Charlotte had a third night of protests on Thursday in the wake of the shooting.

Read more at the Charlotte Observer.