SCOTTSDALE, AZ — A Scottsdale city councilman echoed the dying words of George Floyd on Wednesday while rallying supporters against mandates that would require masks and face coverings in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
"I can't breathe. I can't breathe," councilman Guy Phillips said as he removed a mask amid cheers from the crowd.
The group was gathered at Scottsdale City Hall Wednesday morning to protest the requirement of face coverings and masks in public places.
Phillips went on to tell the crowd that he would "happily wear a mask out of respect for my fellow citizens, but when government threatens me with fines or possible arrests if I don't conform, then I protest."
"We are not in Russia! We are in the USA. We can make our own choices," he said.
Several high-ranking politicians in Arizona denounced Phillips' comments.
"Councilman Phillips' comments at his anti-mask protest rally today at City Hall do not represent the values of our Scottsdale community," Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane (R) said on Twitter. "I share the profound disappointment expressed by many residents at the words Mr. Phillips chose- to use the phrase 'I can't breathe' during this moment in time was callous and insensitive. I sincerely hope he understands how wrong that was and offers a sincere apology."
– to use the phrase “I can’t breathe” during this moment in time was callous and insensitive. I sincerely hope he understands how wrong that was and offers a sincere apology. 2/2
— Mayor W.J. Jim Lane (@MayorJimLane) June 24, 2020
"It's just flat out wrong. Despicable doesn't go far enough," Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) said in a tweet. "The final words of George Floyd should NEVER be invoked like this. Anyone who mocks the murder of a fellow human has no place in public office. Period."
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, also took Phillips to task, saying his choice of words was "despicable."
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
This story was originally published by KNXV in Phoenix.