Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips issued a public apology after coming under fire Wednesday for repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” at an anti-mask protest.
“I am sorry about a comment I made today that was the same comment Mr. Floyd had made. He didn’t deserve what happened to him and I by no means was trying to make light of it by saying I can’t breathe in a mask. Please accept my sincerest apology and that goes out to anyone who became offended,” Phillips said, according to NBC News.
Phillips initially defended his use of the phrase, saying it referenced how “hot and stuffy” it was at the event with a mask on, per The Hill.
Arizona has experienced a recent spike in cases, and to contain the spread, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane instated new guidelines on the use of masks in public. Phillips’ organized a rally to contest this requirement, stating the decision to wear a mask should be left to personal choice, CNN reported. (RELATED: Oregon County Exempts Non-White People From Face Mask Requirement)
Phillips’ repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe” two times. These are the same words George Floyd said while former police officer Derek Chauvin stepped on his neck. Eric Garner, a Black man who died in 2014 also said the words “I can’t breathe” while being tackled by a police officer. The three words have also been a part of the protests happening around the world.
Despicable. This is a serious moment in history and it’s disgusting you are mocking the dying words of a murdered man. https://t.co/71YqW1KYmB
— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) June 25, 2020
Many across the nation joined in condemning Phillips’ behavior, including several prominent Arizona Republicans, according to The Hill. Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was particularly vocal in his criticism of Phillips, saying “anyone who mocks the murder of a fellow human being has no place in public office.”