In an outburst aimed at two black colleagues in the Florida Senate, Republican State Sen. Frank Artiles used the N-word to describe six white Republican legislators who he said were responsible for electing Republican Senate President Joe Negron, the Miami Herald reports. During the exchange, Sen. Audrey Gibson (D) said Artiles called her a “fucking asshole,” a “bitch,” and referred to her as a “girl,” and Sen. Perry Thurston (D) said Artiles called Negron a “pussy.”
Artiles, who was also accused of punching a college student in the face two years ago (he denied it), was somehow elected to Senate District 40 in November.
According to the Herald, the exchange began when Artiles approached Gibson to tell her that questions he’d asked about one of her bills were lobbed in retaliation for questions she’d asked about one of his; this is when he called her a “fucking asshole” and a “bitch,” Gibson said. Thurston, who was also at the table, urged Artiles to apologize, which he did—and then opted to use a racial slur. From the Herald:
Then, someone else at the table — not an elected official — asked Artiles about another word he’d used in reference to Gibson: “girl.” Artiles said he meant no disrespect.
But when the conversation turned to Senate GOP leadership, Artiles used the n-word.
“He said, ‘If it wasn’t for these six niggers,’” Gibson said. By way of explanation, he added, “‘I’m from Hialeah,’” she said.
“I said, ‘OK, Perry, I’m done,’” Gibson said.
Gibson left the conversation to go to the restroom.
“I said, ‘Dude, did you say ‘niggers?’” Thurston recounted. “‘No, I said ‘niggas,’” which is different in his mind.” But not in Gibson’s and Thurston’s, they said.
Thurston, who leads the legislative black caucus, again urged Artiles to apologize to Gibson, but she didn’t come back to the table. She told the Herald, “It’s just the most disrespect I’ve ever encountered.” Politico reports that Thurston arranged a meeting between the two for Tuesday morning so Artiles could apologize, but he didn’t show up.
The Miami Herald also recently obtained a recording of Artiles using the anti-Muslim slur “hajis” in 2014, if for some reason you need even more proof that this is a person who should not be writing laws. The Florida Democratic party has called for his resignation, while the state Republican party chairman did not, referring to Artiles’ racist and sexist harassment of a colleague as a “truly unfortunate statement.”
“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, after he’d been reported to Republican leadership. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
“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,” Senate President Negron said in a statement released Tuesday night. “Senator Artiles has requested a point of personal privilege at the beginning of tomorrow’s sitting, during which he intends to formally apologize to Senator Gibson on the Senate Floor.”
In a text to Politico, Artiles tried to claim that his use of the N-word was not racist because he was using it to insult white people—not a persuasive argument, to put it mildly.
“It was a slang term, and I am not a racist,” he told Politico. “I am not a racist.”