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Andrew Gillum: Frank Artiles needs to go

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Andrew Gillum is refusing to forgive Miami Republican Frank Artiles, who apologized on the Senate floor Wednesday for using the N-word toward two black lawmakers.

The Tallahassee mayor, an African-American who is running for governor next year, says Artiles needs to resign from the Florida Senate.

“We have struggled with days when these words were too common,” Gillum said. “They are the ugliest words in our language and they tear at the fabric of our society. They have no place in 2017, just as Senator Artiles has no place in the Florida Senate.”

Artiles appeared before the entire Senate Wednesday morning to apologize — less than 24 hours after the Miami Herald reported he had gone up to Sens. Audrey Gibson from Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale  Monday night, adding that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart came to his leadership role because “six n****rs” in the Republican caucus elected him.

Artiles also called Gibson a “b***h” and a “girl.”

“There’s no excuse, nor will I offer one,” Artiles said. “No one deserves to be spoken to that way, much less a person of your stature, dignity, and integrity.”

“With regard to the word which I used to no one in particular,” Artiles said he grew up in a “diverse community.”

In his race for governor, Gillum is attempting to become the first black official to be elected to a statewide position in Florida. He said Artiles’ apology did not register at all with him.

“His statement this morning fell well short of what Floridians expect: his resignation,” said Gillum. “He must step aside immediately.”

Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, who is also black, also says Artiles apology on the Senate floor was insufficient.

“Simply dismissing these charges Senator Artiles has admitted to as a passing lapse, or his temper getting the better of him, or a product of his childhood town, doesn’t cut it,” Braynon said. “At some point, it’s time to take a stand, to say that words are not enough. At some point, the Senate must be compelled to act.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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