MIAMI (AP) — A white man was sentenced to probation Tuesday in South Florida for drawing a gun and yelling racial slurs in a traffic confrontation with a group of black teens protesting housing inequality on Independence Day. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2019.
As part of a plea bargain, Mark Bartlett, 55, pleaded guilty to a hate crime and aggravated assault and also agreed not to own a firearm for a decade, the The New Herald informed. Bartlett is also required to perform 300 hours of community service and take anger management classes and racial sensitivity training. Bartlett could have faced decades in prison, but Miami-Dade County Judge Alberto Milian granted Bartlett a stay of adjudication, meaning Bartlett will avoid a formal conviction.
Bartlett had previously claimed that he was acting in self defense during the confrontation, but after a 2021 hearing, Milian ruled that Bartlett did not act reasonably in getting out of his truck and pointing a gun at teenage protesters who had stopped traffic near the Brickell Bridge in downtown Miami. Bartlett had testified that he was held hostage when his SUV was stuck in traffic and that he was repeatedly prompted to use a slur. He acknowledged that the slur is a derogatory term for a black person, but denied that it was racist.
As a condition of his plea agreement, Bartlett apologized in court Tuesday and admitted his words were hateful.
Cellphone video taken by bystanders shows Bartlett brandishing a gun and yelling racial slurs at teens on bikes blocking traffic in downtown Miami.
The protest involved the potential loss of affordable housing in Miami’s impoverished Liberty City neighborhood. It coincided with a much larger event, «Wheels Up, Guns Down,» which was timed to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and involved mostly black youth riding motorcycles and ATVs in traffic, doing wheelies and riding standing up. in the seats