A Florida man was arrested after a video surfaced that showed him pulling out a gun and yelling racial slurs at a group of Black teenagers who were participating in an anti-gun violence event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Mark Bartlett, 51, of Hollywood, Florida, now faces a felony charge of allegedly carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, CBS News reports.
The video has since been widely shared on the social media and it shows several teenagers who had gathered to participate in the annual “Wheels Up, Guns Down,” event that honors Dr. King’s legacy and to protest against gun violence, The Hill reports. People on dirt bikes, ATVs and bicycles ride the streets in South Florida during the event, which took place on a local bridge, and tensions sometimes brew because traffic is blocked.
In the video, a woman can be heard arguing with several teens and claiming one of the boys had run over her foot with his bike. An argument ensues.
“Don’t touch me, you bunch of thugs,” the woman says as she walks away from the teens, who then begin swearing at her.
That’s when a man, identified as Bartlett by police, clearly holding a gun in his hand, approaches the teenagers and begins yelling obscenities and racial slurs and telling them to leave.
“F**king stupid n***ers,” he says at one point.
He can be heard using the slur at least three times and tells the teens to “get the [expletive] out of here,” reports say.
Then Bartlett and the woman start to walk away, and the person holding the cellphone that recorded the video has this to say:
“You’re going to be on the news. Y’all going to make the news.”
“That’s fine,” the woman responds.
The teens fled, and Bartlett was later questioned by police officers, who found the loaded gun, which was resting on the passenger seat next to him, according to the police report. Bartlett told police he didn’t realize he needed to have a concealed carry permit.
“Why am I being arrested when those kids are free to ride around?” he asked the officers, per the report. “I did pull out my gun, but I never pointed it at them.”
In an interview with a local news station, Bartlett offered up an awkward explanation that sounded like it was straight out of president Donald Trump’s playbook.
“The reason 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,” he said. “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 it 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.”
He also said he feared for the safety of his girlfriend Dana Scalione, who is allegedly the woman in the video because she was surrounded by the teenagers. Bartlett also maintains he has no regrets about his actions, other than not having a concealed carry permit.
Maybe the teens shouldn’t have been blocking traffic, but it’s completely understandable that they were upset by the racist slurs. And tensions regarding this issue are higher than they’ve been in a long time, thanks to Trump and his racist followers.
In a statement released Tuesday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle expressed her anger over the incident. She has assigned the chief of her hate crimes unit to investigate the incident.
“I am outraged at the reported acts depicted in the videos taken during this incident,” she said in the statement. “I am committed to filing the appropriate charges and to vigorously prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
The video was posted by Dream Defenders Action, and the organization noted the teens were protesting the redevelopment of a local housing complex.
Featured image by ABC News