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Florida senator resigns amid outcry over racist remarks

TALLAHASSEE – An alcohol-fueled obscenity and racial slur-laced tirade have cost a Miami senator his job.

CBS Miami reports Republican Sen. Frank Artiles officially submitted his letter of resignation on Friday.

In his resignation letter Artiles wrote:

“I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness.

My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State.

I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate.”

Artiles was chastised for using a form of the “n-word” during an exchange with two African-American colleagues Monday night. It happened when he was out with fellow Senators Audrey Gibson from Jacksonville and Perry Thurston from Fort Lauderdale.

Gibson and Thurston said he used the “n-word” word while describing senators who supported Senate President Joe Negron’s rise to power. He also reportedly called Gibson a “bitch.”

Artiles apologized on the Senate floor on Wednesday saying his intention in using those words were benign.

“I extend a heartfelt apology to my colleagues and all those I have offended,” said Artiles. “I am sorry for the words and the tone I used with you regretfully Monday night.”

The apology was not good enough for Democrats who rallied Thursday morning at Artile’s empty district office on SW 128th Street. They called for him to resign from his position because it was “the only appropriate measure for an elected official who has deeply wounded the diverse community in his district.”

“What state senator or what elected official goes up there uses the “n-word,” calls people “bitches,” hits people at bars. He got a record of this. It ain’t like he just started this. He’s been doing this for years,” said protester Deltravis Williams.

In a second rally community leaders and residents from District 40, which Artiles represents, gathered at the Bethel Church to “share their disgust” over Artiles comments and “call for him to be held accountable for his reprehensible words and actions.”

Former state senator Dwight Bullard had that seat before Artiles. He was joined by pastors and community leaders in Richmond Heights in South West Miami-Dade.

“You called a sitting black woman in the Florida Senate the equivalent of a female dog,” said Bullard.

They vowed that if Artiles did not resign, they would prompt a recall vote.

Artiles has tried to explain his behavior as cultural, he’s said that’s the way people speak in Hialeah, where he grew up.

Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, who represents Hialeah also took offense.

“My constituents and I would agree that this language is simply unacceptable. Senator Artiles owes the residents of Hialeah an apology for unfairly associating them with this kind of behavior,” he said in a written statement.

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