Miami state senator Frank Artiles 'sorry' for racial slur

Image source, Frank Artiles

A Florida state senator has apologised to his African-American colleagues after insulting them and using a racial slur during a bar-room chat with them.

Miami Republican Frank Artiles spoke on the floor of the Florida Senate on Wednesday, saying "no one deserves to be spoken to like that".

His apology stems from a late-night tirade at the Governors Club, only steps away from the State Capitol.

He berated two black senators during a chat on politics.

"I stand up before all of you, every one of you, and with great humility, I ask for your forgiveness," Mr Artiles said on Wednesday in a nearly four-minute mea culpa.

According to the Miami Herald, the incident began after 22:00 local time on Monday over drinks at the members-only club.

A lawmaker approached Mr Artiles to ask if his objections to a bill she had filed were political payback for her questions about one of his previous bills.

Mr Artiles reportedly used insults and profanity against African-American Senators Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale.

He allegedly referred to Ms Gibson as a "bitch" and a "girl".

According to witnesses, Mr Artiles also said Republican Senate President Joe Negron, who is white, owed his position to "six [racial slur]".

It is unclear who he was referring to because the chamber's black senators are all Democrats, none of whom voted for Mr Negron.

"I owe you an apology," a contrite Mr Artiles told Mr Negron on Wednesday, begging forgiveness for his "crass and juvenile comments".

But Mr Negron said Mr Artiles would be removed from his position as chair of the chair of the Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities.

During Monday night's discussion, Mr Artiles reportedly sought to justify his use of the n-word, insisting he intended a slang pronunciation that he thought was not offensive.

"I'm from Hialeah" he said, according to Sen Gibson, referring to the racially diverse inner-city neighbourhood of Miami.

The Florida Democratic Party has called on Artiles to quit.