Nearly 4,000 Demand Frank Artiles Resign for Using N-Word as Protests Begin

Sen. Frank Artiles
Sen. Frank Artiles
Courtesy of Florida House of Representatives

Let's all take a moment to formally congratulate state Sen. Frank Artiles, who has long been one of Florida's worst politicians, for shooting himself directly in the foot and all but guaranteeing he'll never win an election again. After years of filing hateful, anti-LGBTQ bills, allegedly punching college kids in the face, smearing Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists, blatantly taking gifts from Florida Power & Light before advancing FPL-friendly bills, and dropping anti-Muslim racial slurs, Artiles achieved the impossible and found a way to double down on being a gigantic bigot earlier this week.

This time, he admittedly used the N-word in front of a black lawmaker. He also reportedly called some Tallahassee lobbyists "faggots" the same night. And now, more than 4,000 people have signed two petitions demanding he resign. Because Artiles still held office as of this morning, multiple protests are planned today in his South Miami-Dade district.

"Artiles has proven time and again that he lacks the judgment, decency, and maturity needed to properly serve his constituents and the people of Florida, and must resign immediately," one petition, from the liberal political action committee Florida Strong, says. This morning, that petition had more than 1,400 people demanding Artiles' resignation.

The second, from a group of activist organizations including the black-rights group Dream Defenders and the LGBTQ-rights nonprofit SAVE, had more than 2,400 signatures as of this morning.

At 10:40 a.m. today, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party will hold a protest outside Artiles' district office at 13501 SW 128th St. Then, at the Bethel Church on Lincoln Boulevard, the progressive activist group the New Florida Majority will hold an anti-Artiles rally. (The group's political chair is former state Sen. Dwight Bullard, who lost to Aritles in November's election.)

"These are the latest in a string of violent, hateful incidents in which Frank Artiles blames his 'temper,' or worse, tries to insinuate this behavior is normal in the community he represents," the Dade Democrats said yesterday in a news release. "There is never an excuse for racism or misogyny."

Sure, yesterday Artiles apologized, claimed he was drunk, used an "a" instead of an "er" at the end of his N-bombs, and used the slur to describe white colleagues rather than black people. It wasn't enough — soon afterward, members of the Black Caucus filed a formal complaint asking the Senate to expel Artiles.

Even for a typical person, the incident Artiles described would still be offensive. And, on top of that, this is Frank Artiles, a man once caught on tape calling Middle Easterners "hajis." He has long lost the benefit of the doubt.

According to the Miami Herald, which broke the story, Artiles called state Senate President Joe Negron a "pussy" and then said six (white) "niggas" in the Florida Senate helped elect Negron to the presidency. Artiles claimed he wasn't being a bigot and said he talks that way because he grew up in Hialeah. This comment has understandably upset folks in Hialeah, including local Sen. Rene Garcia, who demanded that Artiles apologize for suggesting his hometown is full of epithet-slinging Neanderthals.

In Tallahassee, Artiles has few positive accomplishments on his resumé: In 2015, he offended the state's LGBTQ community after he tried to pass a discriminatory, anti-transgender "bathroom bill," which, much like the law in North Carolina, would have forced trans people to use the bathroom corresponding to their birth gender. The bill tanked, but Artiles has not lived down the ordeal. In addition to being offensive and upsetting, the bill likely would have taken a huge chunk out of Florida's tourism industry, given what happened in North Carolina.

During his reelection battle with Bullard, Artiles circulated photos of his opponent wearing a head scarf and falsely tried to smear both Bullard and Black Lives Matter activists as allies of a Palestinian "terrorist organization."

Artiles was also ensnared this year in a campaign-donation kerfuffle involving what is perhaps the most hated company in Florida not called Comcast. The Herald reported that FPL, Miami's pollution-heavy electricity monopoly, spent $2,000 to send Artiles to the Daytona 500 and Disney World. (Artiles attended the race while wearing a jacket with the logo of FPL's parent company, NextEra Energy, embroidered on it.) After those trips, Artiles magically failed to report those gifts until the Herald began asking questions about them.

(As a reward, FPL can now proudly say it spent a ton of money on a lawmaker who dropped the N-word in front of black people and got removed from the Energy, Communications, and Public Utilities Committee as a result.)

Oh, and in the middle of all this insanity, Artiles also announced he'll seek reelection in 2018.

Here's a running list of all the people who are pissed at Artiles and/or are demanding his resignation:

The Florida Senate's Black Caucus

The NAACP's Florida State Conference

"The racial slur, profane language and degrading tone used to members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, in particular, a black woman, has no place in our society. In 2017, it’s unfortunate we still must remind everyone about the “N” word and the negative impact it has had in the black community for many years. A public apology is not good enough from a public official who has used racist language in the past. Do us a favor, take your racist language and racist actions and resign."

The Florida Democratic Party

Florida's African-American House Democratic Women

“Just to be clear: we are not bitches and we are not girls. We are African-American women, elected leaders within our communities, and proud public servants who will in no way accept this misogynistic and racist attack on another woman. As women, we will not be degraded and we will be shown the proper amount of respect that all other legislators are afforded. As members of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, we stand in support of calling for Frank Artiles to be removed from office, but we hope he will do the right thing and resign. No matter how it comes about, Frank Artiles’ time as an elected official must come to an end.”

The Miami Herald Editorial Board

From his unconscionable — and repeated — use of a racial and sexist slurs directed at an African-American colleague to his ridiculously choreographed first apology that he had to be prodded into making, Rep. Frank Artiles, again, has shown the public his measure. And he does not measure up to anyone who should serve in the state Legislature.

The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board

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.

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board

There is no place in the Florida Legislature for Sen. Frank Artiles. The Miami Republican needs to resign, the sooner the better. If he refuses to voluntarily leave for the racist and sexist slurs he made this week, he should be booted out. And not just by the Democratic Party. Republicans in the Legislature — in particular, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill, who chairs the Republican Party of Florida — should show him the door.

The New Florida Majority, a progressive activist group

“State Senator Frank Artilles’ racist and misogynist comments and aggressive behavior towards Jacksonville-area State Sen. Audrey Gibson is evidence of the kind of treatment that women, especially black women, are facing in the public arena today. His insulting language and harassment should not be tolerated by anyone in state government, including his fellow elected officials."

Dream Defenders

SAVE Dade

We are not surprised but still disappointed that it has come to this for Senator Artiles. We have made clear to him that his anti-transgender bathroom bills only discriminate against a class of Floridians. Sadly, Senator Artiles has shown through his behavior towards his colleagues this week that he just doesn’t care about things like that. We urge the Senator to resign. Join us in demanding Frank Artiles resign from the State Senate.

Equality Florida, the LGBTQ-rights group

"We call on Senate Leadership to demonstrate an authentic and unmistakable commitment to upholding a standard of basic decency by removing Artiles from office...His hateful personal views have infiltrated his public service and he cannot be allowed to remain in office. Senator Artiles' racist, sexist and anti-LGBTQ vitriol is unacceptable behavior for anyone, especially someone charged with representing the best interest of the people of Florida. There is no place for Frank Artiles in Florida’s democracy, just as there is no place for discrimination of any kind in Florida.”


New Times' own Uncle Luke

During the 2016 election, Artiles went out of his way to smear his Democratic opponent, then-state Sen. Dwight Bullard, who is black. Artiles aired a Spanish-language TV ad falsely telling voters that Bullard “voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community.” In another advertisement attacking Bullard, Artiles described the Black Lives Matter movement as a “terrorist organization.”

Some people will defend Artiles by saying black people use “nigga” all the time when speaking to one another. But African-Americans can’t go around calling Cubans “spics” or “wetbacks” without facing consequences. In fact, I have never used ethnic slurs when addressing my Latino friends. My mother and father didn’t raise me that way. The same can’t be said about Artiles. Most likely, he grew up believing that bigotry is OK.

The entire city of Hialeah


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