An Arizona councilman invoked the final words of George Floyd and Eric Garner during an anti-facemask rally Wednesday.
Scottsdale City Council member Guy Phillips chanted “I can’t breathe!” before ripping off his facemask in front of a crowd of about 200 attending an “Unmask Us” protest.
Phillips adopted the chant, commonly used during demonstrations against the police killing of black people, in front residents protesting against the state’s new mandatory facemask policy implemented after a massive spike in coronavirus cases, the Arizona Republic reported.
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane quickly condemned the remarks on Twitter, calling them “callous and insensitive.”
“Councilman Phillips’ comments at his anti-mask protest rally today at City Hall do not represent the values of our Scottsdale community,” wrote Lane, adding “I sincerely hope he understands how wrong that was and offers a sincere apology.”
Phillips initially stood by his comments when questioned by the Republic, stating that the chant had “no connection” to Floyd and he did “not mean any disrespect.”
“It was hot and stuffy,” Phillips told the paper.
But the lawmaker later issued an apology and apparently deleted his Twitter account.
“I am sorry about a comment I made today that was the same comment Mr. Floyd had made,” Phillips stated. “He didn’t deserve what happened to him and I by no means was trying to make light of it by saying I cant breathe in a mask. Please accept my sincerest apology and that goes out to anyone who became offended.”
Arizona coronavirus cases have soared since the state began reopening Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, the state recorded a single-day record of 3,800 new COVID-19 cases, up from just the 198 that were reported on the holiday.
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