Florida State Sen. Frank Artiles reportedly used the "n-word" in a private conversation with two African-American legislators Monday, later prompting a public apology on the Senate floor as some call for his resignation.
Artiles says he meant no disrespect when he used the offensive term in conversation with state Sen. Audrey Gibson and state Sen. Perry Thurston at the Governors Club near the State Capitol in Tallahassee Monday, The Associated Press reported.
Artiles said he actually used a slang term for the word that he thought would not be offensive to Gibson or Thurston, as he commonly heard it growing up in Hialeah, the AP noted.
According to the Miami Herald, he used the term to reference Republicans who voted for Sen. Joe Negron as the state Senate president.
The senator also reportedly used other slurs to refer to Gibson and Negron.
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me,” Artiles 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.”
The Florida Democratic Party called on Artiles to resign by Tuesday evening, the Herald reported. Negron, after initially keeping quiet on the incident, said in a statement he was “appalled” by Artiles’ comments, adding that Artiles should publicly apologize to Gibson on the Senate floor Wednesday.
"Sen. Audrey Gibson, I apologize. I am so sorry for the words and the tone I used with you, regretfully, Monday night," Artiles said in his apology. "No one deserves to be spoken to that way, much less a person of your stature, dignity and integrity. I humbly ask you to accept my heartfelt apology."
Negron removed Artiles as chair of the Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. State Sen. Kelli Stargel replaced him on the committee.
"Profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate president," Negron said, according to the Sentinel.
The Florida Democratic Party is now calling for Artiles to resign from the Senate.
"Frank Artiles must resign now," the party stated in a message on its Facebook page. "His use of horrific racist and sexist slurs towards his colleagues is disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society. 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."
The Miami Herald editorial board also called for his resignation Wednesday.
"From his unconscionable — and repeated — use of a racial and sexist slurs directed at an African-American colleague to his ridiculously choreographed first apology that he had to be prodded into making, Rep. Frank Artiles, again, has shown the public his measure," the newspaper's editorial read.
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