A US politician has derided Black Lives Matter protesters, claiming they “hate white people because white people are successful”.
Congressman Robert Pittenger pointed to a reliance on the welfare state when asked what was motivating the hundreds of people rioting in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a black man was killed by police.
“The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people, because white people are successful and they’re not,” he told Newsnight on Thursday.
“It is a welfare state,” he added. “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.”
But the congressman was skewered by presenter James O’Brien for going on to simultaneously praise Donald Trump and evoking the legacy of Martin Luther King.
O’Brien asked: “I just wonder how you square admiration for Donald Trump, who has cast aspersions on the very circumstances of an African American’s birth, while also calling for the spirit of Dr King to be brought to bear upon the current violence.”
Pittenger dodged answering the question, responding instead: “What I am for is freedom and opportunity and liberty, and that’s what our Republican House Members stand for...
“We want Donald Trump to embrace us, and we believe he will embrace our ideas.”
Pittinger’s outburst was blasted as “one of the most ignorant statements I have ever hears” by a Democrat in the House of Representatives.
Pittinger later apologised for his comments, saying he “regretted” them.
Pittenger and O’Brein had been discussing protests in the US that were sparked when police killed another black American man.
Keith Lamont Scott was killed by officers but there are conflicting reports from witnesses and law enforcement officials over whether he was carrying a gun.
A state of emergency has been declared in North Carolina, and one person was killed with a gun as the riots entered their fourth day.