The white man who pulled a gun on and verbally assaulted a group of black teenagers during a traffic confrontation has been charged with hate crimes, according to police.
On Jan. 20, 51-year-old Mark Bartlett pulled a firearm on a group of Black teens who were protesting housing inequality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Miami, Fla. In the video that has since gone viral, you can hear Bartlett call the teens racial slurs and threaten to harm to them.
“He pointed the gun at me first [from] inside his car. He told me to come to the car. I said, ‘No, sir. No, sir. I’m not coming,'” 18-year-old Deante Joseph told ABC affiliate WPLG last month. “He said, ‘Black n—-r. You black n—-r. Get away from my car. Get away from my car.’ We were holding up signs for housing. That’s all we were doing.” Barlett told police later that he had a gun but only revealed it to protect his girlfriend who had initiated an argument with the teens.
“All I see is 15 people running across the street toward my girlfriend — over the median, toward my girlfriend,” Bartlett told WPLG. “My first reaction is, I have a gun on me. Whether I have a gun on me or not, I’m running to see and to protect my family. I had a gun though. It wasn’t loaded. I ran out there. You can see I never pointed it. I never threatened anybody. I just needed it in case something were to happen.”
Bartlett now faces three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, enhanced to a second-degree felony; one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, enhanced to a third-degree felony; and one count of carrying a concealed firearm, a third-degree felony, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Tuesday. If found guilty on all charges Barlett could be looking at 55 years in prison.
The five protesters have filed a lawsuit against Bartlett and his girlfriend and are seeking damages for pain and suffering.