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Scottsdale councilman admits mistake, says he won't resign after 'I can't breathe' comments

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Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 17:26:06-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips says he will not step down amid calls for his resignation following controversial remarks at a recent rally about coronavirus masks.

A group gathered at Scottsdale City Hall last week protesting the requirement of face coverings and masks in public places. The group argued wearing a mask should be a "personal choice" and not a legal requirement.

During the protest, Councilman Phillips said to the crowd, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” in reference to the death of George Floyd, before taking his mask off.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane weighed in Twitter saying, "Councilman Phillips' comments at his anti-mask protest rally today at City Hall do not represent the values of our Scottsdale community. 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."

Others also expressed their disappointment with the councilman's comments and some called for his resignation.

Phillips held a brief press conference Tuesday morning addressing the calls for his resignation and what he meant when he said, "I can't breathe," during the protest.

He said during the protest, many people told him they had a hard time breathing or couldn't breathe while wearing masks.

"The adrenaline took over and I blurted out twice, 'I can't breathe,'" Phillips said, not realizing that what he said may have been taken out of context. "I take full responsibility for that mistake and ask for those who are offended or hurt by my words to forgive my insensitivity."

He says he hopes to have more discussions and "peaceful conversations" with the community.

"I will not give into bullying," Phillips said, saying he will not be resigning. "We have to be able to speak our mind," he continued.

Watch the full press conference in the player above or in the Facebook Live video below.