During an interview with a Fayetteville radio station on Tuesday, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) claimed there is no meaningful distinction between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who recently rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia. That rally left a counter-protester dead and 19 others injured after an alleged Nazi sympathizer drove his vehicle through a crowd of people.
Asked by the host what he took away from the violence in Charlottesville, Pittenger quickly steered the conversation away from groups like the KKK, which seek to terrorize minority groups and establish whites as the master race. Instead, he focused his criticism on Black Lives Matter, a group that works to stop the unjustified killing of black people, saying the group was “just as engaged in hate” as neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacists.
“You look at the actions of Black Lives Matter and people like Al Sharpton who have not condemned it — we never heard President Obama condemn the violence of Black Lives Matter,” Pittenger said. “And so it’s a bit disingenuous to me that so much pressure and criticism has been put on President Trump for what he didn’t say, and yet when these things happen on the other side, there’s silence.”
The host pushed back, asking Pittenger, “Can you really compare Black Lives Matter to Nazis and the KKK and white supremacists?” But Pittenger didn’t back down, saying “hate in all forms is wrong” and asking, with regard to Black Lives Matter, “where is the spirit of Martin Luther King in all this?”
Unconvinced, the host challenged Pittenger again. He pointed out that Black Lives Matter is not a hate group and said, “You’re not going to have a Black Lives Matter person drive a car into a crowd of people and kill a bunch of people.”
“How do you know that?” Pittenger interjected, before going on to claim that “they’ve done other things… some of the people involved have demonstrated hate.”
In September of last year, Pittenger apologized for racially charged criticism he made of protesters who had gathered in Charlotte in response to the death of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a cop.
Pittenger, who represents part of Charlotte, said during a BBC-TV interview that some of the protesters who took to the streets in the city “hate white people.”
“The grievance in their minds — the animus, the anger — they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” he said, before taking aim at people who receive welfare. “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 subsequently apologized in a statement, saying his comment “doesn’t reflect who I am.”
“My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies,” he added. “I apologize to those I offended and hope that we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”