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To protest face masks, Arizona city councilman uses George Floyd’s words: ‘I can’t breathe’

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Taking the stage Wednesday at an anti-mask rally in Scottsdale, #Arizona., #Councilman Guy Phillips (R) appeared in a black face mask. The crowd’s applause tapered into shouts. “Take the mask off!” they yelled. Phillips stood looking at them for a moment.

Then, in a monotone voice, he said into the microphone, “I can’t breathe.”

He said it again, louder: #Icantbreathe — echoing the dying words of George Floyd that have become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police violence.

Then Phillips ripped off the mask, rolled his eyes and feigned relief as the crowd cheered for him. “Insanity!” he said of the mask mandate.

Now, he’s facing calls to step down, as critics on both sides of the aisle have condemned his “callous” insult to Floyd’s memory and the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) called Phillips’s “I can’t breathe” comment “despicable” while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said “despicable doesn’t go far enough” to describe Phillips’s behavior.

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