MIAMI – A Hollywood man was arrested Monday after he was caught on camera approaching a group of black teenagers while holding a gun, shouting obscenities and racial slurs at them.
Mark Bartlett, 51, 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.
A video widely shared on social media shows the group of teens on bicycles 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.
Eventually the woman says “Don’t touch me, you bunch of thugs,” as she walks away from them.
Moments later, a man, identified by police as Bartlett, approaches the teens, holding a gun in his hand. He begins yelling obscenities and racial slurs at the teens, telling them to leave.
“F—ing stupid n—–s,” Bartlett can be heard saying.
An 18-year-old man who participated in the protest told reporters Tuesday at a news conference that Bartlett pointed the gun at him and tried to run over him with his SUV. He said there is footage that has not been released to the media that shows Bartlett in his SUV telling the teen to come toward him before calling him a n—–.
According to a Miami police report, Bartlett got back in his Range Rover after the incident and drove away, but he was stopped by police near Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 13th Street.
Police said Bartlett didn’t have a conceal carry permit for the gun, which was loaded and resting on the front passenger seat.
While in custody, Bartlett asked police, “Why am I being arrested when those kids are free to ride around? I did pull out my gun, but I never pointed it at them.”
Bartlett was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. His arrest photo shows him smiling and wearing the same shirt seen in the video.
In a telephone conversation with Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright, Bartlett said he isn’t a racist and only made the racial slurs out of anger.
“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. “We all knew the word for Puerto Ricans as spic. We all knew Asian people as gooks or whatever. Jews, we knew about Jews. Nobody uses those words anymore. Why? Because Puerto Ricans don’t say that to each other. Because Asian people don’t say that to each other. Because the Jewish people don’t say that to each other. The only ones that continue to say it are black people. So what’s the first thing in my head or most people’s heads? Unfortunately, it’s the n word.”
Bartlett said he took out his gun because his girlfriend, Dana Scalione, was outnumbered by the teens and he feared for her safety.
“All I see is 15 people running across the street toward my girlfriend — over the median, toward my girlfriend,” he said. “My first reaction is I have a gun on me. Whether I have a gun on me or not, I’m running to see and to protect my family. I had a gun though. It wasn’t loaded. I ran out there. You can see I never pointed it. I never threatened anybody. I just needed it in case something were to happen.”
Bartlett stands behind his actions and said he has no regrets over the incident other than not having a conceal carry permit.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Tuesday that she has assigned the chief of her hate crimes unit to investigate.