A Florida Lawmaker Used The N-Word About His Black Colleagues

by Jessicah Lahitou
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

There aren't many ways local representatives can get some national attention, but using the n-word is definitely one of them. That doesn't appear to be the motivation for Florida state Senator Frank Artiles, but it's his outcome nevertheless. According to reports from two African-American colleagues, Artiles used the n-word, and added in several other offensive insults. The conversation took place "over drinks" at a private club on Monday night, and since the incident gained media traction, the Democratic Party of Florida has called for Artiles to resign.

The conversation between Artiles and his two fellow senators, Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, included Artiles blaming six of his black colleagues for Senate President Joe Negron's successful bid at the leadership role. Artiles used the n-word to refer to the senators who supposedly helped Negron become senate president. Apart from being vile and offensive, Artiles claims also appear nonsensical. There are no black Republican members in the Florida state Senate, and none of the six black Democratic senators would have voted in favor of Negron in any case. Additionally, Artiles used "bitch" and "girl," apparently in reference to Sen. Gibson.

Artiles has released a statement making a formal apology, and is expected to apologize to Gibson on the Florida state Senate floor on Wednesday.

This is not the first scandal in which Artiles has been implicated. Back in 2014, Artiles was running for re-election to the Florida state house of representatives. Unbeknownst to him, someone recorded Artiles at a polling place, and caught him on tape using a slur, referring to Muslims as "hajis." And in 2015, Artiles was accused of punching a college student at a bar, a charge he denied. The Miami New Times tracked down the alleged victim, a young man named Peter Alberti who stated he had been punched by Artiles, after brushing past him on his way to the bar. The two did not know each other before the alleged incident.

It is unclear if Artiles will resign. Several leading Florida politicians and groups have called for him to step down, including the Florida Democratic Party and the advocacy group Florida Strong. Additionally, fellow politicians have spoken out about the insufficiency of a simple apology. No amount of drinks, no extreme loss of temper can justify what Artiles said on Monday night.

The very least he can do to demonstrate his genuine remorse is resign.