A white gunman who was arrested after calling a group of Black teenagers the N-word in Florida on Martin Luther King Jr.’s national holiday should be hit with hate crime charges, a prominent civil rights attorney said Tuesday. Miami police officers arrested 51-year-old Mark Alan Bartlett on Monday and charged him carrying a concealed firearm, WPLG-TV reported.
The entire episode was caught on a video that has since gone viral and showed the teens on bicycles arguing with a woman on the Brickell Avenue Bridge in Miami. In the heated confrontation, the woman in the video claimed one of the boys ran over her foot with his bike.
Bartlett then approached the teens holding a gun in his hand. “F***ing stupid ni**ers,” he’s heard saying on the video.
“Sources tell me Dana Scalione and Mark Bartlett are the racist pair in the video. Mark was arrested yesterday but only charged with carrying a concealed weapon. We’re coming for both of them now. There will be accountability. #MarkBarlett was arrested and released for less than $500. He bonded out on a concealed weapons charge. That’s not going to be enough. State Prosecutor @KathyFndzRundle we are going to need some additional charges including hate crime enhancements,” he stated.
Dream Defenders Action reportedly posted the video and said the young men were protesting redevelopment of a public housing complex.
Officers caught Bartlett shortly after he drove away from the scene, a police report said. His gun was on his front passenger seat and loaded when they caught up with him.
Bartlett approached the teens with his gun because he saw that his girlfriend was outnumbered, and he feared for her life, he stated to the news outlet. He also denied threatening the teenagers, underscoring that he never pointed the weapon at anyone.
As for him being a racist, Bartlett said that’s just not true.
“The reason why we use that word, the reason why Chinese people use the word, why Japanese people, European people, the reason why everybody uses that word is because Black people use that word,” he said.
Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle vowed Tuesday in a statemtn to prosecute Bartlett to the fullest extent that the law allows.
“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,” she added.