Sen. Artiles Under Fire For Using Racial Slur While Talking To African-American Colleagues

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A Republican senator from Miami is under fire Tuesday night for using a racial slur while talking to two African-American colleagues in Tallahassee.

Frank Artiles cursed at state Sen. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale and another black lawmaker at a private club near the capitol.

Thurston spoke exclusively with CBS4 Tuesday night.

“It was about some bill and she (Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville) said he cursed at her when I walked away. And I came back and he apologized, but in the midst of the conversation it turned to the leadership of the Republican Party and he referred to them as (racial slur),” Thurston said.

State Democratic leaders have called for Artiles to step down.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who is expected to become Senate president after the 2018 elections, said Gibson “under no circumstances should ever have been spoken to in such a reprehensible manner.”

“I understand that President Negron is allowing Senator Artiles to formally apologize on the Senate floor tomorrow,” Galvano said. “Such comments cannot be repaired by a formal apology, but I trust that it is an appropriate step to be taken by the president and the Florida Senate to handle this matter, and to ensure that this behavior is not tolerated and does not happen again.”

Sen. Artiles has not returned CBS4’s calls, but he told our news partners at the Miami Herald that he’s apologized to one of the lawmakers and that he let his temper get the best of him.

Artiles also said he’d used the slur because “I’m from Hialeah.”

The Senate President Joe Negron issued a statement saying Artiles will apologize on the Florida Senate floor Wednesday.

“Senator Braynon reported this incident to me earlier today, and I was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner. My first priority was to ensure that this matter was promptly addressed between the two Senators involved, which occurred this evening.  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. 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.”

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