A South Florida man was arrested Monday in Miami after he was caught on cellphone video yelling obscenities and racial slurs at a group of black teenage protesters while holding a gun, WPLG reported.
Mark Bartlett, 51, of Hollywood, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after the incident at the “Bikes Up, Guns Down” event in Miami, which is held annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Miami Herald reported. In a statement, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the case against Bartlett will be investigated as a potential hate crime, the newspaper reported. Charges against Bartlett could be upgraded to include aggravated assault, which includes a “hate crime” enhancement, according to the Herald.
The teens were protesting the affordable housing crisis in Miami’s Liberty Square community and had blocked part of an avenue with their bicycles, the Herald reported.
In the video, a group of teens are shown arguing with a woman on the Brickell Avenue bridge, the television station reported. The woman claimed one of the boys ran over her foot and both sides began yelling.
"Don't touch me, you bunch of thugs," the woman said as she walked away, WPLG reported.
Moments later, a man identified by police as Bartlett approached the teens, the television station reported. He was holding a gun in his hand and began yelling obscenities and racial slurs at the teens, telling them to leave, the television station reported.
The person recording the video can be heard telling the woman and Bartlett, “You're going to be on the news. Y'all going to make the news."
"That's fine," the woman said.
According to Bartlett’s arrest report, he was arrested just before 6:30 p.m., the Herald reported.
“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 posted bond, the Herald reported.
“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,” Rundle said in her statement. “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.”
“Everyone should be alarmed at what happened today. Anytime someone takes a firearm, approaches a scene of people and displays that firearm while yelling racial epithets (people) should be upset,” Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon told WTVJ.