CHARLOTTE (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Republican congressman from North Carolina believes violent protests that have been taking place in Charlotte come from demonstrators who “hate white people.”

“The grievance in their minds is the animus, the anger, they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., told BBC Newsnight.

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

Pittenger apologized for his comments following the interview.

“What is taking place in my hometown breaks my heart. Today, my anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret,” the congressman tweeted.

Pittenger added that his answer doesn’t reflect who he is and that he 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,” Pittenger tweeted. “I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.”

The North Carolina Democratic Party released a statement saying Pittenger’s remarks were inexcusable and racist.

“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 Robert Pittenger is fanning the flames of hate with his racist rhetoric. This sort of bigotry has become all too common under the party of Donald J. Trump,” they said in a statement on Facebook.

A third night of protests is taking place Thursday in Charlotte following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott as hundreds of protesters are marching through the heart of city’s business district.

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The protesters stopped for about 15 minutes to chant and block an intersection near Bank of America’s headquarters. They then moved on as police and members of the National Guard monitored them.

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The demonstration that began about 7:30 p.m. at a park has so far been peaceful.

The crowd includes curious onlookers who emerged from hotels and office buildings to take pictures.

The business district, known locally as uptown, has been on edge Thursday after two nights of chaotic protests that included vandalism and injuries.

A person who was shot in the head during Wednesday night’s protests died Thursday. The victim has been identified as 26-year-old Justin Carr.

Carr was shot as protesters clashed with police in riot gear lined arm-in-arm protecting the Omni Hotel about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. City officials say Carr was not shot by an officer.

Police Chief Kerr Putney says the detectives are determined to find who fired the fatal shots. No arrests have been made.

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