Man Who Pulled Gun, Hurled N-Word At Kids Faces Hate Crime Investigation

Screenshot/Dream Defenders Action

The state attorney in Miami-Dade County, Florida announced Tuesday that she had instructed her office’s hate crimes unit to investigate the case of a man pointing a gun and hurling racial slurs at a group of African-American kids on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A video from the activist group Dream Defenders published Monday shows a group of young black bicyclists on Brickell Avenue Bridge, in downtown Miami, arguing with a woman in the middle of the street. The video starts in the middle of the argument, and it’s unclear how it began. Soon, a man pointing a gun at the kids comes to the woman’s side, cursing and using racial slurs to refer to the bicyclists.

“I am outraged at the reported acts depicted in the videos taken during this incident,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in the statement Tuesday. “I have assigned my Chief of our Hate Crimes Unit to immediately investigate and handle this case.

She added: “I am committed to filing the appropriate charges and to vigorously prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”

The man, later identified as Mark Bartlett, 51, was initially charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a felony, according to multiple reports from local outlets.

Some thought the charge wasn’t enough: The Miami New Times called it “weak.”  Dream Defenders call it “a slap on the wrist.” A truck clad with huge screens has been spotted around town showing Bartlett’s picture and listing more serious charges he could face. 

The kids were reportedly participating in an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition of sorts called “Bikes Up, Guns Down.” The police report for the incident, according to multiple outlets, said the kids had blocked the street to protest the displacement of affordable housing by redevelopment in Liberty Square, Miami.

In another video surfaced by Dream Defenders, Bartlett is seen hurling racial slurs from the driver’s seat of a Range Rover. (Caution: The video is loud at the end.) 

Bartlett was unapologetic in a phone interview with WPLG, saying of the gun he was recorded holding: “I never threatened anybody. I just needed it in case something were to happen.”

“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,” Bartlett added, referring to the slur he was filmed using. “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.”

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