A councilman in Scottsdale, Arizona, is in hot water after he used the infamous phrase, “I can’t breathe!” during his rally to protest against a mandatory mask order.
Councilman Guy Phillips made the comments before an audience of supporters at City Hall in Old Town Scottsdale on Wednesday.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” he said as his supporters cheered for him to take off the mask.
‘I can’t breathe’ Scottsdale council member says at anti-mask rally
The video immediately made the rounds on social media with many criticizing him for using the phrase in apparent disrespect of Eric Garner and George Floyd, who both died while being arrested by police.
Phillips later denied in a statement to the Arizona Republic that he was referring to the Black Lives Matter phrase.
“It was hot and stuffy,” Phillips explained. “I did not mean any disrespect and there was no connection.”
He then offered a statement of apology hours later to the Floyd family.
“I am sorry about a comment I made today that was the same comment Mr. Floyd had made,” Phillips said. “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.”
Many on social media assumed that Phillips used the phrase intentionally and excoriated him for it.
“Guy Phillips, let’s hope this clip buries your career. Vile,” responded New York Times writer Wajahat Ali.
“What a POS Guy Phillips is. This is disgusting and if Guy Phillips has a job tomorrow something is serious wrong. You don’t Eric Garner and George Floyd or ANY of the MANY black men chocked, strangles and suffocated by police. Disgusting,” replied author Don Winslow.
“I demand the immediate removal of Guy Phillips form @scottsdaleazgov City Council immediately,” tweeted voice actor Charles Adler. “If this is acceptable to you than no one should visit or stay in your city until you correct this disgusting display and prevent it from ever happening again !”
Here’s more about the anti-mask protest:
Scottsdale group pushes to end mask mandate