Man who pulled gun on black teens on MLK Day facing new charges under hate crime law

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The man who pulled a gun on a group of black teens who were protesting on Brickell Avenue on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is now facing a host of charges that were enhanced because of a hate crime bill passed by Florida legislators.

In addition to the felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon, Mark Bartlett is now facing three counts of aggravated assault with prejudice, which are second-degree felonies and a single count of improperly exhibiting a firearm, a third-degree felony.

The state’s hate crime bill allows prosecutors to increase the charges a notch. Without it, Bartlett would likely be facing a misdemeanor charge for carrying a concealed weapon and a third-degree felony for the aggravated assault charge. If convicted, it could mean a longer sentence.

Bartlett’s attorney Jayne Weintraub could not immediately be reached for comment.

After the confrontation with the teens, Bartlett apologized for the language he used, but maintained his innocence, saying he was “legally defending a loved one.”

Bartlett, 51, is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment on Wednesday.

The incident erupted on the afternoon of Jan. 21, when a group of teens were protesting a lack of affordable housing in Liberty City by blocking the roadway in downtown Miami near the Brickell Bridge. An offshoot of the “Wheels Up Guns Down” movement that has become prevalent during the holiday, the group called itself “Bikes Up Guns Down.”

A cellphone video clip captured by an activist who was tagging along with the teens caught a woman named Dana Scalione calling the kids “thugs” and screaming at the teens. She accused one of them of riding over her foot with a bicycle.

Scalione had gotten out of the SUV driven by her boyfriend, Bartlett. A few seconds after her tirade, Bartlett is seen holding a gun and telling one of the kids, “Get out of here you piece of s—,” then hurling racial slurs at them.

A bystander called police, who caught up with Bartlett near AmericanAirlines Arena and arrested him, charging him with only carrying a concealed weapon. Prosecutors spent the next several weeks interviewing witnesses.

A couple of days after the incident, the real estate company where Scalione worked announced on its Facebook page that it doesn’t tolerate discrimination and that Scalione had been fired.

Then at the end of January the guardians of four of the teens involved in the incident with the couple filed a civil rights lawsuit arguing the couple’s actions amounted to a hate crime. The lawsuit claims Bartlett and Scalioine intentionally emotionally distressed and assaulted the teens and asked that a jury determine damages.

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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.