After using n-word in front of black colleagues, Fla. state senator faces calls to resign
A Republican state senator from Miami is facing pressure to resign after he used the n-word to criticize several of his colleagues during an alcohol-fueled rant in front of two black lawmakers.
Over drinks at a private club in downtown Tallahassee, State Sen. Frank Artiles referred to six white senators as “n‑‑‑ers” and spewed other obscenities while complaining about the chamber’s GOP leadership, local media reported Tuesday.
In response, the Florida Democratic Party called on him to resign Tuesday night, saying his conduct was “disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society.”
Artiles apologized for the remarks in a statement Tuesday provided to the Miami Herald.
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me,” he said. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
Republican leaders said Artiles is expected to offer a formal apology Wednesday morning on the state senate floor.
Artiles reportedly fired off the slurs in a heated conversation Monday night with Democratic senators Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, both of whom are black.
The three were talking at the members-only Governor’s Club near the state capitol when Artiles called Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican, a vulgar word for female genitalia and said he had won his position because “six n‑‑‑ers” had elected him, according to the Herald.
When Gibson and Thurston recoiled at the comment, Artiles tried to defend himself by saying he meant to use a different version of the n-word, ending with “as” rather than “ers,” according to Politico. The word was acceptable, he reportedly told them, because he hailed from Hialeah, a largely Hispanic city in Miami-Dade County. At one point, Politico reported, he also called Gibson an insulting word.
With that, Gibson stormed off, saying, “I’m done,” Politico reported.
Thurston told the Herald he stayed and urged Artiles to apologize.
Eventually, he did, but it took the intervention of the Senate minority leader and another lawmaker, the Herald reported.
“It’s just the most disrespect I’ve ever encountered,” Gibson said. She added later: “I’m very respectful to this process. I’m very respectful to everyone… And the way he was characterizing the vote — it wasn’t nice.”
Negron, the Senate president, reprimanded Artiles in a statement Tuesday.
“I was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner,” he said. “Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between Senators.”
This isn’t the first brush with controversy for Artiles, a Cuban American and former Marine. In 2015, he was accused of punching a college student in the face outside a Tallahassee bar, a claim he denied, as the Miami New Times has reported. And in 2014, as the Herald reported Tuesday, he was secretly recorded using an anti-Muslim slur at a polling place.