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A Florida Lawmaker Who Used Racial Slurs Could Be Removed From Office

For Florida State Senator Frank Artiles, Wednesday’s public apology for his major misstep was too little, too late—and for good reason.

On Monday, The Miami Herald reported that Sen. Artiles used racial slurs and curse words in a private conversation with two female colleagues. Among multiple uses of the n-word in reference to black members of the Florida Senate, Sen. Artiles also called Sen. Audrey Gibson a “bitch.” (Not okay.) Wednesday morning, he took to the Florida State Senate floor to formally apologize for his derogatory comments. BTW, his speech was forced by other State Senators.

The New York Post reported that Sen. Artiles opened his apology by speaking directly to Sen. Gibson. “My comments to you were the most regretful of all, because they injured you personally. No one deserves to be treated like that.”

Sen. Gibson wasn’t there for his belated excuses after being insulted—according to The Miami Herald, she sat with her back turned to Sen. Artiles during the apology.

The “heartfelt” remarks came after an initial refusal to apologize to Sen. Gibson for insulting her and fellow Sen. Perry Thurston during a conversation at a members-only Governors Club in Tallahassee on Monday. Aside from his direct insults to these women, Sen. Artiles used racial slurs to describe the supporters of the Florida Senate President, Joe Negron. The Herald suggested that alcohol was involved in Sen. Artiles’ verbal tirade.

Despite his apology, Sen. Artiles could still be removed from his post as Senator in the Florida Senate. Shortly after Sen. Artiles’ three-minute, 45-second speech, Democratic Sen. Thurston filed a formal complaint to expel him on behalf of the legislative black caucus. In a formal letter to the committee responsible for handling Sen. Artiles’ punishment, Sen. Thurston wrote that “the shadow he has cast over our chamber deserves the most severe punishment available.”

While Artiles has told reporters he doesn’t plan to step down despite his major gaffe, we hope he’ll be adequately penalized for his crass comments. Discriminatory and racist language shouldn’t be tolerated at any level of government—or in any work environment, period.

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