Congressman Misses the Point of North Carolina's Protest

September 22nd 2016

Several night's protests have followed the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer on Tuesday afternoon.

Given the intensity of the demonstrations, which have resulted in one death, elected officials and media members have been been trying to make sense of the anger emanating from the streets of Charlotte.

Robert Pittenger, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, is being heavily criticized on social media for what many users consider a woefully misguided diagnosis of the problem.

In an interview with "BBC Newsnight," Pittenger said that black people are rioting because they're jealous of white people, and the welfare system is to blame.

"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 but we've put people in bondage so that they can't be all that their capable of being."

Pittenger then went on to say that the American legacy is intertwined with the fact that people used the "freedom to still come to this country" to "build out their lives."

"And you know America is a country of opportunity and freedom and liberty. It didn't come that way because of a great government who provided everything for everyone, no. The destiny of America, the freedom to still come to this country, where they're still coming to our shores, is because they can take their work ethic and their hard effort and put up their capital and their risk, and build out their lives. "

There's a bitter irony to Pittenger's argument, given that many black American's are still suffering economic injustices rooted in the slave trade, through which more than 12 million African slaves were captured and brought to North America to live in bondage from 1525 to 1866.

People on Twitter were furious with Pittenger's comments.

After an uproar from his BBC appearance, Pittenger issued an apology on Twitter. He said that in his comments his "intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility" of black Americans.

Here's the real reason protesters are angry.

The shooting of Scott in Charlotte was one of three high profile shootings shootings of black people by police in the past two weeks. The police are saying that Scott had a gun when he was shot.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened when Scott was killed and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Police Chief Kerr Putney is refusing to release the video.

"What I can tell you, though, is it supports what we've heard and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott," said Putney at a press conference on Thursday, according to NBC News.

You can watch the clip of Rep. Robert Pittenger's comments on black people below.

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