MIAMI (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man after a viral video appeared to show him and his girlfriend in a heated confrontation with bicyclists taking part in the “Bikes Up, Guns Down” protest.
The cellphone video was taken on a bridge by a member of the Dream Defenders activist group in Miami’s Brickell district, Monday afternoon.
A woman is seen visibly upset at the group of bicyclists blocking the roadway.
“Please move your bikes!” the woman is heard repeatedly telling the group. “I have kids I need to pick up!”
A separate video showed the woman accusing one of the riders of running over her foot.
“You just ran over my foot with your tire!” she yelled at one of the riders.
The riders were protesting being displaced from the Liberty Square area.
Organizers said they’re fighting for affordable housing, saying the city sold their homes to private developers without their input.
Things then escalated when, Miami Police said, 51-year-old Mark Allen Bartlett, ran up to the group with a gun.
“Get the [expletive] out of here, you [expletive] piece of [expletive],” Bartlett told one of the riders. “You [expletive] losers.”
As Bartlett walked away, he’s heard calling them the N-word three times.
“You stupid [expletive],” he yelled.
“Put the gun to my head!” a rider screamed in response.
Eighteen-year-old Deante Joseph said he was caught in the middle of it before getting away as things escalated.
“He was like, ‘You black [expletive], you black [expletive]! Get away from my car,'” Joseph said. “As I saw him pulling out the gun, I turned around and started walking back toward the crowd.”
City of Miami Police confirmed to 7News that Bartlett was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said on Tuesday, “The video was obviously very disturbing, and there’s a few things that happened here. It’s not to excuse the behavior of the lady who we first see in that video, and then of the man that comes out with the gun, because they were both wrong, but this is what happens when people are out on the street. It’s almost kind of like a road rage kind of thing. People lose their minds.”
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued a statement Tuesday morning that read:
“I am outraged at the reported acts depicted in the videos taken during this incident. I have assigned my Chief of our Hate Crimes Unit to immediately investigate and handle this case.
I spoke with City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Chief of Police Jorge Colina this morning and my office is working closely with City of Miami Police on this matter. I am committed to filing the appropriate charges and to vigorously prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
Colina also assigned a similar unit to investigate the video.
“We have an investigator that’s assigned, that normally handles our hate crimes,” he said, “so if we’re able to show that that’s the case, then we’ll take the appropriate action.”
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez took to Twitter to condemn Bartlett’s actions seen in the video.
As of Tuesday morning, Bartlett has bonded out of jail.
7News spoke with the organizer of the protest ahead of a press conference.
“These kids, loss for words right now,” Dwight Wells said. “This kid ain’t even sleep last night, who’s standing to my right. This kid still has on the same clothes he had on from yesterday – a red shirt. I can’t even get a conversation out of these kids right now.”
Wells believes the incident could have been avoided if the kids weren’t bothered.
“Those kids should have been left alone and got their demonstration understood of what they’re fighting for,” he said.
Several kids on bicycles showed up to the press conference.
Some were seen huddled as they prayed.
At one point, kids stood beside a truck that was playing the viral video on a large screen.
Earlier in the day, the same truck gathered with a similar truck in Miami blasting the viral video.
“Dear City of Miami Beach Police Department,” the sign on one truck read, though incorrectly identifying the police jurisdiction. “We, the people of the community demand charges upon Mark Allen Bartlett.”
The group is now said to be represented by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt’s firm.
“Several of the children have not slept. They’re very disturbed, and ultimately it’s very clear that this was racially charged,” said attorney Angel Suttle.
The chaotic incident comes as hundreds of people took over South Florida streets on their all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Police are investigating what happened when the cameras weren’t recording.
7News reached out to Bartlett and his girlfriend for comment, but they have not responded as of this writing.
If you have any information on this incident, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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