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Zaidi denounces comments by Arizona politician 

@mattkellyMLB
June 26, 2020

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi voiced his anger Thursday at public comments made by Scottsdale, Ariz., city council member Guy Phillips. Phillips spoke at an anti-facemask rally in Scottsdale on Wednesday, wearing a black mask as he came up to the microphone. Phillips then pretended to hyperventilate and

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi voiced his anger Thursday at public comments made by Scottsdale, Ariz., city council member Guy Phillips.

Phillips spoke at an anti-facemask rally in Scottsdale on Wednesday, wearing a black mask as he came up to the microphone. Phillips then pretended to hyperventilate and yelled the words, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” before tearing off his mask to cheers from the small rally crowd.

“I can’t breathe,” were among the last words spoken by George Floyd, whose death on May 25 while under police custody in Minneapolis has sparked nationwide protests and calls for serious anti-racism reform. They were also among Eric Garner’s last words as he died in police custody in New York in July 2014. Phillips would later issue a public apology, calling his comment “stupid and insensitive,” but his words immediately drew criticism and calls to resign from public office from observers across the country – including Zaidi.

“I think anyone would have difficulty getting beyond the abhorrent insensitivity of his statement,” Zaidi told The Athletic on Thursday. “But even if you can get beyond that – the fact that this guy is condoning behavior that put our staff and players at risk?”

He continued: “I can’t believe that that guy is a public official in this country. It’s unbelievable.”

Several Giants players have continued to train at the team’s Spring Training complex in Scottsdale since the original Spring Training was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, but the team closed the complex last week after an unidentified employee and a family member exhibited flu-like symptoms. Arizona is one of many states across the United States that has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The Giants have held their Spring Training camp in Scottsdale for decades, and they are currently constructing a new complex in the Phoenix suburb that will also host conventions and other events when the team is not in town.

Zaidi did not say whether the Giants would raise the issue with the city of Scottsdale, but given the context of both the pandemic and the active conversations surrounding race that are defining this time in America, Zaidi said there is no place for Phillips’ comments.

“I don’t know how you could watch that and not be angry about it,” he said, “and angry may be too simple a term. As for what recourse we have, I wouldn’t want to speak to that. But I’m [extremely] pissed about it. And I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that.”

Arizona governor Doug Ducey also condemned Phillips’ remarks, tweeting Wednesday, “Just flat out wrong. Despicable doesn’t go far enough. 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.”

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.