What was supposed to be an event promoting peace during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was roiled by dozens of arrests and a racially charged gun confrontation caught on video.
On Monday, Miami-Dade police arrested a man they say hurled racial slurs and pulled a gun on a group of Black teens on their bicycles near the city’s Brickell neighborhood, the Miami Herald reported. Mark Bartlett, 51, was later stopped in his vehicle and arrested on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon, according to jail records.
The chaotic scene unfolded at the annual “Wheels Up, Guns Down” biking event, where members of the local grassroots group Dreams Defenders Action were protesting the redevelopment of the public housing project known as Liberty Square. Viral video posted on the group’s Instagram page shows members of the activist group being accosted by a white man with a gun.
The clip begins with a woman shouting at the teens, claiming one of the boys ran over her foot with his bike. A war of words ensues.
“Don’t you touch me, you bunch of thugs,” the woman says as she storms away from the group. The teens continue to yell obscenities back at her.
Moments later, the woman is joined by a white man armed with a pistol, who rushes over to confront the group.
“Get out of here you piece of s–t,” he shouts at one of the teens, before twice hurling racial slurs and cursing at the youths.
The man and woman repeatedly order the teens to leave, after which one of them says, “you’re going to be on the news.”
Another video taken prior to the confrontation shows the teens protesting and holding signs that read “Save Liberty Square,” station Local 10 News reported. In it, the same woman is heard pleading with the teens, who were blocking part of the road.
“I have kids I need to pick up. This isn’t funny,” she says in the clip. “Please move your bikes.”
Keon Hardemon, a Miami city commissioner, suggested that Bartlett should face more serious charges for the incident. According to police, Bartlett didn’t have a concealed carry permit for the gun, which was loaded and resting on the front passenger seat of his car.
“Assault with a deadly weapon and calling them n—-rs sounds like a hate crime to me …,” Hardemon wrote on Instagram. “Someone knows him and needs to identify him. He’s not a hero. He will kill someone next time if he isn’t arrested.”
The newspaper, citing police documents, reported that Bartlett said, “Why am I being arrested when those kids are free to ride around?” when he was apprehended.
MLK Day also included several other incidents of chaos.
According to a department spokesman, at least 11 people were arrested (nine for felonies, two for misdemeanors) and three firearms were seized. Meanwhile, in Broward County, deputies also made 11 arrests, confiscated at least two firearms and seized 13 ATVS/dirt bikes.
Watch more in the video below.
View this post on Instagram
BREAKING: Teenagers attacked during annual Bikes Up, Guns Down event — Miami man pulls gun on teenager, calls them “stupid niggers.” Every year, Black Miamians ride bikes, ATVS, motorcycles on MLK Day as part of “Bikes Up, Guns Down” to address gun violence in our neighborhoods. This video was captured today by one of our members on Brickell. #bikesupgunsdown #miami #brickell