MIAMI – Witnesses testified in Miami-Dade County court on Monday in the case of Mark Bartlett, who wielded a loaded gun while yelling racial slurs to protesters on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019 at Miami’s Brickell Avenue Bridge.
In testimony in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Alberto Milian ahead of Bartlett’s “stand your ground” hearing on Tuesday, Jamal Anderson, who was a minor when Bartlett, then 51, allegedly threatened him, listed some of the insults and racial slurs he endured.
Deante Joseph, another protester, also testified. A witness video shows Bartlett yelling at a protester who was holding a “Preserve Affordable Housing” sign. Bartlett shouted, “Get in front of my car! You f [expletive] piece of s [expletive],” and “N [racial slur]s suck!”
“I was holding a sign. I heard someone’s noise saying, ‘Hey! Hey! Come here!’ The horn is blowing. I turn around and I see him hanging out the window,” Joseph said in court about why he walked toward Bartlett, now 54, and turned back.
Despite all of Bartlett’s provocations, videos show the group of demonstrators didn’t react with violence or wielded any weapons. Witnesses said the group was there to protest peacefully and it was Bartlett and his girlfriend who threatened them.
On MLK Day 2019 in Brickell, a group of teenagers, boys, and girls ― some as young as 11 years old — protested the lack of affordable housing in Miami. The boys rode their bicycles to Brickell as part of “Bikes Up, Guns Down,” a nationwide movement for public MLK Day group ride-outs to protest racial injustice.
One boy held up a “Save Liberty Square” sign, referring to the community where a historic public housing project for Blacks first opened in 1937. “Black Lives Matter!” some of the boys shouted since the Liberty City neighborhood has remained predominantly Black for decades even though the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 ended racial segregation.
The BLM movement advocated stopping traffic as a form of civil disobedience to disrupt the daily life of people who might otherwise be unaware of their plight. When the Miami affordable housing protesters blocked Brickell Avenue, Dana Scalione, a real estate agent, was a passenger waiting in Bartlett’s Range Rover.
Scalione got out of the SUV. Videos show she walked around frantically confronting the young protesters on Brickell Avenue. A witness’ video shows Scalione saying, “You are going to end up in jail,” “Please, move your bike,” “I have kids I need to pick up! You guys are blocking me,” and “This is not saving your cause.”
Another witness’ video shows Scalione accused a teenage boy of running over her foot, called them “a bunch of thugs” and pushed a boy. He didn’t push her back. Bartlett, her boyfriend at the time, jumped out of the Range Rover while holding a loaded gun.
“Get the [expletive] out of here! You f [expletive] piece of s [expletive]. You f [expletive] losers,” Bartlett said.
Scalione pulled out her phone and continued to shout, “You ran over my foot!”
“You f [expletive], stupid n [racial slur], f[expletive], dumbass f[expletive], n [racial slur], stupid n [racial slur],” Bartlett said.
Bartlett later said after getting out of Miami-Dade County jail that he had decided to confront the protesters while armed because he feared for Scalione’s safety. He showed no remorse.
Miami Police Officer Carlos Martinez also testified on Monday. He said he saw the “large group of Black juveniles obstructing traffic.”
“First of all, I didn’t have to get out of the car because I handled the incident without getting out of the car and I still feel that’s the best way,” Martinez said about his response to the BLM protest in Brickell on MLK Day 2019.
Miami police officers arrested Bartlett on Jan. 21, 2019, and found his loaded gun in the back of the passenger’s seat. Bartlett demanded a trial by jury on Jan. 22, 2019, and submitted a written plea of not guilty on Feb. 19, 2019.
Earlier this year, Bartlett’s attorney filed a motion for statutory immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action on justifiable use of force.
“They were banging on the hoods of the car. They are scaring people. They have masks on. They are scaring people,” Attorney Bruce H. Lehr said on Monday to characterize Bartlett’s threatening actions captured on video as self-defense.
Bartlett is facing five felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon, three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, and improper exhibition of a firearm. The trial hearing on the defense’s motion is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
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Warning (Expletives and racial slurs)