Senator apologizes for racial slur
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA - State Sen. Alex Deccio, R-Yakima, apologized on the Senate floor Monday for using a racial slur in an argument with another legislator last week.
``I realize this has been very hurtful to members of the African-American community and for that I am truly sorry,'' said Deccio, 81. ``I feel if the Rev. Martin Luther King were here today, he would accept my apology, so I'm asking you to do the same.''
Some black leaders said they would accept Deccio's apology only if he resigned his Senate seat.
``This individual is not deserving of being a representative of the people,'' said Carl Mack, president of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP. He traveled to Olympia on Monday to demand Deccio's resignation.
Deccio used the slur on Thursday, during a heated argument with Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, about health insurance reforms in a meeting with several legislators, staff members and insurance industry representatives.
He called Campbell a ``nigger in the woodpile.'' Both men are white.
The phrase is used to convey a similar meaning to the term ``snake in the grass.'' The Oxford English Dictionary defines the expression as ``a concealed motive or unknown factor affecting a situation in an adverse way.''
Deccio said he instantly realized his mistake and apologized in the meeting. On Friday, he apologized in person to Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, the only black state senator.
On Monday, Franklin tearfully accepted his apology on the Senate floor.
The slur Deccio used ``sears like a branding iron,'' she said. Talking about how her ancestors had come to America as slaves, her voice broke and she wiped away tears with trembling hands.
But, she said, she forgives Deccio. ``I accept Sen. Deccio's apology and will work for healing,'' Franklin said. ``We need to come together.''
Deccio crossed the Senate floor and hugged Franklin after her speech.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.