Constituents call on Artiles to resign after racial slur

Several dozen protesters gathered Thursday morning outside a state senator's South Florida district office, calling on him to resign.

"Resign now," protesters chanted while holding signs aimed at Florida Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami.

Senate President Joe Negron said Wednesday that Artiles was removed as chair of the Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities after he used a variation of the "n-word" during a Monday night conversation with Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, and Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, at the Governors Club in Tallahassee, not far from the state Capitol.

Gibson and Thurston, who are black, said Artiles also used obscene and belittling language.

The legislative black caucus is seeking to have Artiles removed from office.

Thurston, who filed a formal complaint Wednesday, wrote that Artiles' "egregious comments" were a violation of Senate rules and justify his expulsion. The letter was addressed to Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who serves as chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Artiles apologized Wednesday morning on the Senate floor.

"I grew up in a diverse community," Artiles said. "We share each other's customs, cultures and vernacular. I realize that my position does not allow me for the looseness of words or slang, regardless of how benign my intentions were."

The constituents who gathered outside Artiles' office said the senator's apology isn't enough.

"His despicable act of contrition was something that, I've lived here for 37 years, and I do not accept him as my representative," protester Fred Frost said. "Frank Artiles has got to go."

Gov. Rick Scott, who was attending a ceremony Thursday at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami, spoke to Local 10 News senior political reporter Michael Putney about the senator's remarks.

"It's disappointing," Scott said. "It's disgusting. It's wrong."

Putney asked Scott if he thought Artiles should be expelled by the Senate.

"You know, he's a separately elected official and the Senate's a separate body," Scott said. "They've got to make those decisions on their own."

In a memorandum to all senators, Negron said he has directed Dawn Roberts, general counsel of the Florida Senate, to conduct an investigation and present a report and recommendation to the Rules Committee by Tuesday.

Artiles has said that he doesn't intend to step aside.

"I'm embarrassed that I have somebody in Tallahassee with these types of words and views," protester Deltravis Williams said.

Former state Sen. Dwight Bullard was joined by community leaders and clergy later Thursday at Bethel Church, joining the calls for Artiles to resign.

"The fact that he has a history of unscrupulous behavior that's now his chickens coming home to roost means that it's time for him to leave the halls of Tallahassee," Bullard said.

Bullard previously held Artiles' Senate seat. He lost to Artiles in the November general election.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.