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Scottsdale councilman won’t resign following comments at anti-mask rally

PHOENIX — A Scottsdale councilman said Tuesday he won’t resign from his position despite calls to do so following controversial comments he made last week at an anti-mask rally.

Guy Phillips said that if people want him out of office, they can vote in the upcoming election.

The calls for his resignation stemmed from the Scottsdale councilman’s anti-mask protest Thursday. During the event, Phillips used the words “I can’t breathe,” the last said by George Floyd, who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

“While so many have called for me to resign, I have been elected twice by the voters of Scottsdale and will most likely be re-elected again,” Phillips said during a press conference.

“… If the voters want me to go, the primary election starts in eight days. I will not give into bullying or surrender to crowd madness. If I do, who will be next?”

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, Gov. Doug Ducey, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane all condemned the remarks.

The rally was in response to the Scottsdale mayor’s emergency proclamation requiring all residents to wear face coverings in public. Phillips said he found it unsettling the mayor would take such a directive without input from the city council.

“In mingling and speaking with many before the rally started, several people told me about their experiences with masks and how they couldn’t breathe,” Phillips said. “… While waiting to speak I thought about those comments and when it was my turn to speak, the adrenaline took over and I blurted out twice ‘I can’t breathe.’

“It wasn’t until a couple hours later when I was informed that a reporter used that phrase to call me a racist that I realized the gravity of that comment. I knew then that I had unwittingly created a controversy I couldn’t erase.”

Phillips added that given the divisiveness of the county, too many immediately rush to judgment after hearing such comments.

“I take full responsibility for that mistake, and ask for those offended or hurt by my words to forgive my insensitivity,” Phillips said.

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