GOP Arizona city councilman apologized Wednesday for mocking the dying words of George Floyd during a protest he organized against a local city and Maricopa County order to wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips organized the anti-mask protest following an order issued last week by the city’s Republican mayor for residents to cover their noses and mouths “in most public areas.”
As Phillips, who donned a black face mask, took to the microphone Wednesday morning to address the protesters, he declared: “I can’t breathe.”
“I can’t breathe,” Phillips said a second time, as the more than 150 protesters gathered outside city hall in Scottsdale, Arizona urged him to remove the mask.
The councilman then pulled off the mask as he rolled his eyes and threw his head back.
“Insanity,” he shouted to the crowd which erupted in applause.
Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips attracted controversy during an anti-mask protest when he said “I can’t breathe,” the same words George Floyd said right before he died in Minneapolis police custody. @lindawfox10 has the mayor's response at 5 p.m. on #FOX10Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/kcXYncyUv2
— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) June 24, 2020
Following Phillips’ rally, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said in a tweet that “Despicable doesn’t go far enough” to describe the councilman’s comments, adding: “Anyone who mocks the murder of a fellow human has no place in public office.”
“The final words of George Floyd should NEVER be invoked like this,” Ducey wrote.
Phillips apologized later Wednesday to the Floyd family in a statement to The Arizona Republic after initially denying his words had any connection to Floyd’s death.
“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,” Phillips told the paper. “Please accept my sincerest apology and that goes out to anyone who became offended.”