On Wednesday, Councilman Guy Phillips led a rally against the city’s mandate to wear masks.
I have publicly stated two things regarding this:
I have my own opinions on this issue, but one thing remains certain: Arizona’s COVID numbers are rising and have made us a worldwide hotspot for the virus. Travel restrictions and quarantine rules for those visiting other cities from our state are being enforced.
Scottsdale has made national headlines for the large crowds in our bar district. The largest number of cases in our state are in people between the ages of 20-44.
Short of another shutdown, which we should work hard to avoid, we are running out of options. Our city leaders acted accordingly and, regardless of my personal opinions, I will do what they ask.
In what would otherwise be a totally unrelated issue, the past month has taught all of us many things about unrest surrounding racial injustice in our nation.
The Black Lives Matter movement has taught me valuable lessons from the conversations that are taking place in our communities. Black Lives Matter as a concept is not placing one race above others. It is the bare minimum standard in the face of racial injustice, like that of George Floyd.
Like many of you, I watched the video of that incident with horror and disbelief. I watched Mr. Floyd cry out for his mama, and choke out the words “I can’t breathe,” before he went limp, closed his eyes, and never woke up.
Who knew that one person could bring together the two most divisive and controversial issues in the world today, and with one ignorant comment, completely dismantle our residents’ belief in our leadership and sink our reputation as a city that cares for all people?
At his law-defying rally, our own Councilman Phillips walked up to the podium wearing a mask, picked up the microphone, and yelled twice, “I can’t breathe!”
Then he ripped off his mask, shook his head in exasperation, and said, “Insanity.”
You can almost hear the collective jaw-drop in homes around the Valley as it was live-streamed on every news channel. Unsurprisingly, this reached national news, and his name was even trending on Twitter.
I do not condone comparing the mild inconvenience of wearing a mask with the shameless murder of a black man suffocated by a police officer kneeling on his throat --- in front of the whole world. Invoking the final words of George Floyd to make a political point regarding Guy Phillips’ self-righteous anger at our mayor’s mask mandate is nothing short of heartless, selfish, and racist.
Councilman Phillips, you have every right to protest, and every right to free speech. But it does not mean there are not consequences for your poor choices --- whether it is the immediate and brutal pushback against you from every leader, including our Governor, or anger directed at the rest of us in the city you represent.
I worry that there will be repercussions of his ignorance that anger people further, given what took place at Fashion Square last month because of what happened to Mr. Floyd all the way in Minneapolis.
So far, Guy’s only response has been an embarrassing display of back-pedaling. I believe everyone there --- including Mr. Phillips and those in the crowd waving the Confederate flag --- knew exactly what it meant. He was reading from a script on a clipboard. I wonder who wrote it?
Scottsdale deserves better.
There is no place in Scottsdale’s leadership for someone with such poor judgment.
In addition to his inconsistent voting record, disingenuous campaigning, backstabbing behavior, and more recently an ethics complaint that made it further in the process than any complaint filed in the history of our city, I believe that the only right thing to do would be for Councilman Phillips to apologize and resign. I see no possible way he will ever earn back what he lost today.
His ignorance and racism do not represent me --- or the Scottsdale I love.
Editor’s Note: Bill Crawford is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council in the Aug. 4 primary election.