After a clash on Martin Luther King Jr. Day went viral, hate crime charges have recently been filed against the white man who shouted racial epithets and carried a concealed weapon on him at a rally for affordable housing in Miami.
Mark Bartlett has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, which has been enhanced to a second-degree felony; one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, which was enhanced to a third-degree felony; and one count of carrying a concealed firearm.
The developments were announced in a Tuesday, Feb. 19, press release by Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Bartlett was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alberto Milian accepted a written plea since Bartlett was not in court, the Miami-Herald reported. Milian ordered Bartlett and his attorneys to appear in court next Tuesday. Meanwhile, prosecutors are looking to increase how much bond Bartlett must post to stay out of jail, as he waits to go on trial.
Court documents say Bartlett was released on $5,000 bond related to the concealed firearm charge, which was confirmed by one of his lawyers, Jayne Weintraub.
Bartlett’s attorneys said in a statement their clients’ actions don’t constitute a hate crime.
“Mark went to protect [his girlfriend, Dana Scalione] and extract her from the mob surrounding and taunting her. It would not have mattered if these people were red, white or blue,” said Weintraub and Jonathan Etra in a statement. “Clearly, these delinquents, who were commandeering traffic and taunting passengers, wearing masks and gloves, were not peacefully protesting — they weren’t peacefully doing anything!”
Bartlett was initially charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a permit after he pointed one at three Black youths who gathered at the annual “Bikes Up, Guns Down” ride-out. The young demonstrators were riding their bikes and obstructing traffic to put a spotlight on potentially losing affordable housing over redevelopment in the impoverished Liberty City neighborhood. Videos went viral of the incident and after they were posted on Twitter by local grassroots organization Dream Defenders last month.
In one of the clips, Scalione is seen accusing one of the boys of rolling over her foot and shoves one of the teens. She commands them to move, saying she has children to pick up from school.
“Don’t you touch me, you bunch of thugs,” Scalione shouts during the screaming match as she stomps off from the group. The protesting teenagers continue to shout and then Bartlett races up to the group holding a pistol.
“Get out of here you piece of s—,” he screams. “Get the f–k outta here … f–king stupid n—–s! F–king dumb ass n—–s.”
There’s also a video of Bartlett in his pickup truck exclaiming, “n—ers suck.”
As for the teens, a civil lawsuit has been filed by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represents six plaintiffs, and attorney Marwan Porter. They say the defendants, Bartlett and Scalione, behaved in a way that made the teens feel “violence was imminent.”
“Scalione engaged in an onslaught of physical and verbal assaults … including insults and racial slurs,” the filing states, noting that Bartlett “angrily approached the teenagers while wielding a firearm.”
Another video emerged of Bartlett screaming “n*ggers suck” out of his car window before he got out of his car. pic.twitter.com/DkRCMmnn5O
— Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) January 22, 2019