A city councilman who said "I can't breathe" at an Arizona anti-mask rally is being strongly condemned by his fellow Republicans for appearing to mock the dying words of George Floyd, who repeatedly said he couldn't breathe as a police officer knelt on his neck. Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips, who organized the rally, said the words twice before taking his mask off, which brought cheers from the crowd, NBC News reports. "Just flat out wrong. Despicable doesn’t go far enough," tweeted Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. "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."
Phillips told the Arizona Republic he was only referring to the "hot and stuffy" mask and he "did not mean any disrespect." He later issued an apology 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 can't breathe in a mask." Phillips is running for a third term, and his remarks were condemned by seven of his opponents in the Aug. 4 primary election. A few hundred people, most of them maskless, were at the rally, 12 News reports. Scottsdale and many other Arizona cities are requiring people to wear masks in public places amid a surge in coronavirus infections. (More Arizona stories.)