SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Watch View Alerts

Hate crime charges filed in Miami over Martin Luther King Jr. Day scuffle

Cell phone video shows Mark Bartlett, 51, holding a gun and yelling at a group of African-American youths who were protesting.

Posted: Mar 3, 2019 10:30 AM
Updated: Mar 3, 2019 10:30 AM

Prosecutors in Florida have filed hate crime charges against a white man who was captured on a cell phone video holding a handgun and yelling racial epithets at a group of African-American youths at an anti-violence protest on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced the felony charges Tuesday against Mark Bartlett under a hate crimes enhancement provision after investigators completed interviews last week. Police had arrested Bartlett shortly after the incident for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, Fernandez Rundle said.

"The witnesses and victims in this case were the ones who identified that he had actually pointed the gun at them, each one of them at different points," she said, referring to three victims.

Bartlett told police, "I did pull out my gun but I never pointed it at them," according to an arrest affidavit.

An enhancement provision in state law allows for stiffer penalties for convictions when offenses are motivated by prejudice.

Bartlett, 51, now faces three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, a second-degree felony under the hate crimes provision, and one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, enhanced to a third-degree felony, according to Fernandez Rundle.

He was also charged with one count of carrying a concealed firearm, a third-degree felony, Fernandez Rundle said.

Bartlett's attorneys entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf at his arraignment on Wednesday, said Terry Gonzalez-Chavez, a spokeswoman with Fernandez Rundle's office. Bartlett remained free on bond, which was for his initial charge stemming from the incident, Gonzalez-Chavez said.

According to court records and one of Bartlett's attorneys, Jayne Weintraub, he had been released on $5,000 bond related to the concealed firearm charge.

Bartlett is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for his bond to be revisited due to the upgraded charges, Gonzalez-Chavez said.

Videos detail confrontations on Miami streets

The youths were participating in an annual anti-violence ride-out, called "Bikes Up, Guns Down," said civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represents six plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Bartlett and Dana Scalione. Scalione is Bartlett's girlfriend, said Weintraub, who is defending both against the civil complaint.

The youths were also demonstrating in support of affordable housing, according to the suit, filed nine days after the incident.

Several motorists called police on the King holiday, January 21, to report incidents at three locations in downtown Miami, Fernandez Rundle said. One caller also identified a man with a firearm and gave authorities a vehicle description, she said.

Three videos -- which show portions of the encounter and were posted on social media by a community advocacy group -- show a white woman engaging with a group of older youths, some carrying signs, on bicycles.

Some youths are blocking an intersection and disrupting traffic, and at least one of their bikes is on the ground, blocking traffic, the footage shows.

In the first video, the woman, identified by her lawyer as Scalione, says her vehicle is stuck in gridlock caused by the protest. She is seen pleading with the minors to move.

"You'll end up in jail. Good life, guys. Good job," she says, clapping her hands.

"OK, leave us alone, please," someone else is heard saying.

"This is not saving your cause," Scalione says. "Please move your bike. I have kids I need to pick up. Please, sir."

Several protesters, some who appear to be teens, can be seen surrounding her. One laughs and points his finger in her face.

A second video shows a man, whom police have identified as Bartlett, sitting in a vehicle. At least a half-dozen times, he yells a two-word phrase, combining the N-word with "suck."

In a third video, Scalione can be seen confronting the protesters, one of whom she appears to shove.

"You just ran over my foot with your tire," she says as she and a youth on a bicycle exchange words, their faces inches apart.

"You just touched me, you bunch of thugs," she says.

"F***ing, white a**," another person can be heard saying.

Then, Bartlett, approaches the youths, a handgun in his right hand, the footage shows. He calls the protesters "pieces of sh**" and "losers" and three times uses the N-word before walking back toward a row of vehicles, the video shows.

Neither Scalione nor any protester has been charged with a crime.

The videos, which run 78, 60 and 60 seconds, respectively, were posted at the Twitter account of Dream Defenders Action Fund, a nonprofit community organizing and civil rights advocacy group.

Bartlett was protecting his girlfriend, attorneys say

After Bartlett headed back toward his vehicle, "the juveniles began to flee with the driver in pursuit," a witness told police, according to an affidavit that covers Bartlett's January 21 arrest.

When officers pulled him over, Bartlett acknowledged he had a firearm but no concealed carry permit, the document states.

While in custody, the affidavit notes, Bartlett "spontaneously stated, 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's attorneys said his actions don't constitute a hate crime.

"Mark went to protect Dana and extract her from the mob surrounding and taunting her. It would not have mattered if these people were red, white or blue," Weintraub and Jonathan Etra said 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!" the statement reads.

The lawyers call the civil lawsuit "completely frivolous and nothing more than a publicity stunt further invoking and exploiting the name of MLK."

"The teens were the first to hurl racial slurs and curse words on video toward Mark's girlfriend!" their statement reads.

Teens feared 'violence was imminent,' lawsuit claims

The civil suit, filed by Merritt and attorney Marwan Porter, takes a different view.

"Scalione engaged in an onslaught of physical and verbal assaults ... including insults and racial slurs," it claims, while stating that Bartlett "angrily approached the teenagers while wielding a firearm."

The teenagers "had a well-founded fear that violence was imminent judging by Bartlett's erratic behavior and outwardly display of a firearm."

"For them, to become victims to not only racism but gun violence, it merits the kind of response that we're seeing from the state attorney's office," Merritt told CNN.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 91°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 84°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
90° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 98°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 91°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 87°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 88°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 88°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 85°
Severe weather risk, then brief, but substantial cool-down...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events