1. Opinion

Editorial: Frank Artiles should resign from Florida Senate for racial slurs

Rep. Frank Artiles, R- Miami. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
Rep. Frank Artiles, R- Miami. (SCOTT KEELER | Times)
Published Apr. 19, 2017

Miami state Sen. Frank Artiles should resign from office for his racist tirade to a pair of his African-American colleagues. The Republican's public apology on the Senate floor Wednesday morning was insufficient, and there should be no tolerance in the Florida Legislature for such bigotry.

Artiles used a racial slur and other profanities Monday night at the members-only Governors Club in Tallahassee in a conversation with two black Democrats, Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. The Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei reported that Artiles used the word "n- - -as" in describing white Republicans who supported Senate President Joe Negron's campaign to lead the chamber. Gibson said Artiles also referred to her as "this f- - - - - - a- -h- - -" and "this b- - - -.'' There is no excuse for using such language anywhere, and it makes no difference that this was in a private conversation in a private club that was overheard by others.

In full damage control, Artiles took a rare moment of personal privilege when the Senate convened Wednesday morning and apologized to Gibson, Thurston and Negron. He called his language "crass and juvenile,'' but it was worse than that. His feeble attempt to explain his use of the "n- - -as" as vernacular from his hometown of Hialeah where "we share each other's customs'' reflects a stunning lack of sensitivity and understanding of the pain and denigration that word packs. News reports also indicate Artiles did not take the initiative to apologize and had to be steered in the direction.

Artiles, 43, is no stranger to using racist language or ethnic slurs. In 2014, he was secretly recorded at a Miami-Dade polling place using the word "hajis," a derogatory term directed at Muslims, Arabs and Middle Easterners.

Negron took away Artiles' committee chairmanship, but that is not enough. The Florida Senate is better than this, and no senator should tolerate such behavior. Yet Artiles said after his apology he intends to run for re-election in two years. That is the ultimate insult to the institution, and he should resign now.