Miami State Sen. Frank Artiles (R) is in hot water after he reportedly dropped the N-word in the presence of two Black colleagues during a late-night chat, the Miami Herald reported.
While grabbing drinks at the members-only Governors Club after 10 p.m. Monday night, Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville (D) and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale (D) said Artiles griped that the only reason Republican Senate President Joe Negron rose to his powerful GOP leadership position was because “six N-words” in the Republican Caucus had elected him. This was reportedly after he referred to Gibson as a “f-cking a–hole,” a “b-tch” and “a girl.”
The Republican senator later told Gibson and Thurston that he used the racial slur as a form of slang and that he wasn’t trying to insult anyone.
“I said, ‘Dude, did you say ‘niggers?'” Thurston recounted. “‘No, I said ‘niggas,'” which is different in his mind.’
It’s not exactly clear who Artiles was referring to when he used the term, however, as the only African-American senators in the state senate are all Democrats, according to the newspaper. None of those senators backed Negron to lead the chamber either.
After his actions were brought to the attention of Republican leaders Tuesday, April 18, Artiles apologized to Gibson for the insults he had hurled at her during a heated exchange the night before. Artiles reportedly approached Gibson at her table to tell her that the series of questions he’d asked about one of her bills earlier that day was payback for questions she’d asked before one of his bills.
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me,” he said in a statement. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
Members of the Florida Democratic Party have since called for the senator’s resignation.
“His use of horrific racist and sexist slurs toward his colleagues is disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society,” party spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a statement. “This is just the latest in a string of violent, hateful incidents in which Artiles blames his ‘temper.’ There is never an excuse for racism or misogyny and the people of Florida aren’t buying it. Resign now.”
Negron, whom Artiles also insulted, blasted the attorney for his comments, as well, saying, “Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate president.”
To make matters worse, Artiles’ racially charged slur came the night before a diverse group of bipartisan lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday to extend an emotional apology to a group of African-American men known as the Groveland Four, who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1949, the Miami Herald reported
The Black Caucus scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday, April 19, to discuss the senator’s behavior.
Although he apologized, Gibson says she can never look at Artiles the same way again.
“I can’t remember a time in my life when anybody called me either one of those things,” she said, referring to the insults directed at her. “It’s just the most disrespect I’ve ever encountered.”