The case of a white man yelling racial slurs after pulling a gun on black teenage protesters will be investigated as a potential hate crime, Miami’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.
Mark Bartlett was arrested Monday evening for carrying a concealed weapon after wielding a gun and screaming at several young men participating in the “Bikes Up Guns Down” event in Miami’s Brickell area. The confrontation was captured on video by a member of the grass-roots activist group Dream Defenders. The jarring footage, posted to social media, began to go viral late Monday.
The Hollywood resident could face upgraded charges, such as aggravated assault, that includes a “hate crime” enhancement that stiffens the sentence if convicted.
“I am outraged at the reported acts depicted in the videos taken during this incident. I have assigned my chief of our Hate Crimes Unit to immediately investigate and handle this case,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Tuesday. “My office is working closely with City of Miami Police on this matter. I am committed to filing the appropriate charges and to vigorously prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
The young men on bicycles were protesting the affordable housing crisis in Miami’s Liberty Square community, where a large mostly private development is being built. They’d blocked part of Brickell Avenue with their bicycles. The protest was an offshoot of the “Wheels Up Guns Down” movement that has become a staple in South Florida every Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The video posted on the Dream Defenders Twitter page shows a white or Hispanic woman yelling at a black teen that he ran over her foot with his bike. Then Bartlett runs up with his pistol, a black Springfield XT9 handgun, and yells at the teens, “Get out of here you piece of s---,” before hurling racial slurs at them.
An onlooker called police. According to Bartlett’s arrest report, a police officer spotted him just before 6:30 p.m. driving his blue Range Rover on Biscayne Boulevard and 13th Street. Bartlett was taken into custody and charged with carrying a concealed firearm.
“Why am I being arrested when those kids are free to ride around?” Bartlett asked the arresting officer, according to his arrest form. “I did pull out my gun. But I never pointed it at them.”
Bartlett has since posted bond.