February 27, 2019
Mark Bartlett, the white man who pulled a gun and yelled racial slurs at black teens during an anti-gun protest, is now facing hate crime charges. If convicted, the man could spend from five to 55 years behind bars.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, announced on a press release that after carrying out several interviews with witnesses regarding the events that went down on January 21, Mark Bartlett is now facing additional criminal charges on top of an initial charge of carrying a concealed firearm.
Mark Allen Bartlett in the picture released by the Miami Police Department | Photo: Miami Dade County Correction
Following the hate crimes enhancement provision created by the Florida Legislature, which provides stiffer penalties for a conviction when an offense was motivated by prejudice, the following charges have been filed against Barlett: three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, and one for carrying a concealed gun.
Back in January, footage recorded by witnesses showed a confrontation between Barlett, his girlfriend Dana Scalione, and a group of black teens that were taking part in an event titled “Wheels up, Guns Down,” at the Brickell Avenue Bridge in Downtown Miami.
Dana Scalione confronted the protesters. | Source: Twitter/DreamDefenders
The clips show the teenagers were blocking traffic with their bikes. Then, Scalione approached them to demand them to move their bikes because she had kids to pick up at school.
However, the argument escalated when the woman accused one of the teens of running over her foot with his bike. Scalione yelled at the group:
“You just touched me, you bunch of thugs!”
Barlett then exited his vehicle and can be seen walking to the group with a gun in his hand while asking Scalione, “Who did it?”
Scalione accused one of the teens of running over her foot with his bike. | Source: Twitter/DreamDefenders
The man then proceeded to yell racist remarks and expletives at the group, using the N-word repeatedly.
After a bystander reported Barlett to the police, he was initially arrested for carrying a concealed gun without a permit. He was released on a $5,000 bond, but now prosecutors will ask for an increase in his bail as he awaits trial.
Barlett entered a written plea of not guilty but did not appear in court for his arraignment. His attorney, Jayne Weintraub, said the state attorney "succumbed to political pressure" by filing the new charges.
Mark Bartlett walked towards the group of teenager carrying a gun at his side and yelling racial slurs. | Source: Twitter/dreamdefenders
“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. This was not a hate crime,” he stated.
Fernandez Rundle, on the other hand, told reporters that “actions matter and words matter," adding:
"Crime matters and the law matters. The charges are about words coupled with actions. We are looking at the totality of the evidence and what the witnesses and the victims are saying and that is why we felt these were the appropriate charges."
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, talked to reporters about the enhancing of charges. | Source: YouTube/CBS Miami
Lee Merritt, an attorney representing six of the teens involved, praised the prosecutor’s decision. “It means a lot to these families of the children who are victims of what we have always believed was a hate crime,” Merritt told CBS.
“We hope this leads to a vigorous prosecution that will lead to the appropriate sentencing. Hate crimes are on the rise in the past few years and to deter them we have to use the laws that are on the books.”
Scalione is not facing criminal charges, but she was fired from her job after the company stated her action went against their policies.
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