The 27-year-old Bartels, a former CarMax employee who most recently lived in Richmond, has not made a public statement confirming or denying whether he was the person in the video. Heavy has reached out to Bartels via email but has not yet received a reply.
CarMax replied to tweets that mentioned him by name, saying that they did not condone the behavior in the video and said he had not worked for them since May 2021. The company did not name Bartels in its statement but responded to people who asked whether Bartels worked for the used car dealer chain by saying, “This individual has not worked for our company since May 2021.”
The incident occurred on the Q subway train in New York City. Officials with the NYPD and the MTA have not commented about whether an investigation into the incident is ongoing. According to the MTA, masks are required on subways in New York City. The MTA says on its website, “It’s required, and it’s the right thing to do. Make sure it covers your nose and mouth. If you’ve forgotten your mask, we’ll have some available at station booths—for kids and adults! You can also purchase a mask from PPE vending machines that we’re testing in 10 stations. Riders who refuse to wear a mask could get a $50 fine.”
Janno Lieber, the acting CEO of the MTA, said at a press conference on August 17, 2021, according to NBC New York, “This is outrageous. Number one, the guy’s a jerk. Every New Yorker who gets on the subway knows that one of the first principles is you treat others respectfully, and this is like an incredible, egregious violation of basic human decency and respect.”
Here’s what you need to know about Ryan Bartels:
1. The Video Showed a Man Yelling ‘1776!’ at a Woman on the Subway
The video that went viral showed a man yelling “1776!” at a woman on the subway. It was posted on Twitter and TikTok by a user who goes by Naviko and @Subway_DJ. The man was not wearing a mask, while the woman was. Naviko wrote on Twitter, “We need to find out who this guy is and where he works because this was absolutely unacceptable. Unhinged #antimasker #Antivaxxer bullied an elderly woman on the #subway #NYC today.”
“I wish the police would come and give you a $50 fine” for not wearing a mask, the woman tells the man at the beginning of the video. The man then leans closer and says in a mocking tone in the woman’s face, “I’m so afraid!” He steps back after she says, “Please get away from me sir.”
The video then cuts briefly and returns to show the man chanting “1776!” at the woman while shaking a fist in the air. He then points at the woman, who has stood up, yelling, “Sit, take a seat.” When someone tells him to respect his elders, he replies: “I respect freedom.”
He then tells the person filming, “Take a seat. Sit down. Sit the f*** down. That’s right.” Multiple versions of the subway video have been circulating on social media. One video went viral with more than one million views. The woman in the video has not been identified.
2. CarMax Replied to Tweets With Bartels’ Name, Writing, ‘This Behavior Does Not Represent Our Values’
When the video went viral, some people on social media believed that the man might be Ryan Bartels, a former employee of CarMax. They began tagging CarMax in posts on Twitter, until CarMax finally responded. The video was shared by several Twitter and TikTok accounts with large followings, including TikToker “auntkaren0,” and the first to identify the man as Bartels was one of her followers, @rx0rcist. She identified Bartels as a New Jersey man, but public records connect him to Virginia, New York, Washington D.C. and South Carolina.
CarMax replied to a series of tweets in which one person showed a screenshot of Bartels’ deleted LinkedIn profile that listed him as a product manager at CarMax. This tweet was in response to a video where Bartels was identified and the person wrote: “Here’s the guy harassing people on the train today…”
CarMax wrote: “This individual has not worked for our company since May 2021. At CarMax, we value treating everyone with respect and this behavior does not represent our values.”
CarMax also tweeted another statement that read: “UPDATED: We’ve been made aware of a concerning video. This individual has not worked for our company since May 2021. At CarMax, we value treating everyone with respect and this behavior does not represent our values.”
CarMax replied to multiple tweets that tagged the company in videos and photos that also named Bartels, writing the same message that the individual has not worked for them since May 2021 and the behavior “does not represent our values.”
Here are some of the tweets that CarMax replied to:
3. Bartels Worked at CarMax as a Product Manager From 2019 to 2021, According to His LinkedIn Profile
According to a LinkedIn profile that is now deleted, Bartels did work at CarMax as a product manager. However, Bartels has not made a public statement confirming or denying whether or not he was the man in the video.
Before being deleted, the profile indicated he had also worked as a private equity associate and an investment banking analyst.
Bartels was an investment banking summer analyst at Goldman Sachs from 2014 to 2015 and worked at two other firms after college before starting his job at CarMax in 2019, according to screenshots of the now-deleted LinkedIn profile.
4. Bartels Went to High School in Buffalo & Graduated From the University of Virginia, Where He Was a Jefferson Scholar
Bartels attended Canisius High School in Buffalo, New York, and then graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in commerce, according to his LinkedIn profile. While at the University of Virginia, according to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation alumni directory, Bartels was a Ralph C. Wilson Jefferson Scholar and chief editor for Young Americans for Freedom, “a visible presence for the Conservative Movement, energizing students and encouraging them to speak out,” according to the group’s website.
The alumni directory says about Bartels, “Virginia Team Handball Club, founder and president; Beta Gamma Sigma, chief financial officer; Catholic Student Ministries; Global Markets Group; Madison House, Westminster Daycare Center, Hot Shots soccer coach; Veconlab; Moneythink, executive board; Young Americans for Freedom, chief editor; Alternative Investment Fund, chief marketing officer; Undergraduate Economics Teaching Fellow; Virginia Advocate, senior editor; Virginia Men’s Rowing; Virginia Rifle and Pistol Club; College Republicans; Creating Assets Savings and Hope, volunteer; Cavalier Academic Support Team Economics, tutor; Intramural Sports, referee; Intermediate Honors; Dean’s List; Echols Scholar.”
The scholarship was endowed by Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Buffalo Bills, to help send students from the Western New York region to Wilson’s alma mater. In a 2012 profile on the Bills’ website about Bartels, he said, “At the end of my junior year, The University of Virginia was one of my top schools. A few friends on the rowing team had applied for the program in the past which is how I learned about it. Ever since I’ve been young I always wanted to go there. It was a great opportunity so I went for it and ended up getting lucky.”
Bartels added, “I have been a part of the Canisius rowing team for the past four years, which has played a big part in my career,” said the Jefferson Scholar awardee. “Although I was not a captain, it allowed me to be a leader on the team because a lot of the guys looked up to me as someone who had done well at the national level. I taught my teammates not to be cocky no matter how well we do.”
5. The Man in the Video Also Appears to Have Been Seen at an Anti-Vaccine Mandate Rally in New York City the Same Day
As people were trying to identify the man in the video, photos were shared on social media that showed him wearing the same clothes at an anti-vaccine mandate rally in New York City on August 15, 2021. The rally was organized by the New York Young Republican Club, according to its Twitter profile. The same man seen with him in the subway video can also be seen in the photos.
The event was held to protest New York City’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, which requires proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs and music festivals. Speakers at the event included Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is running for governor of New York, and Republican New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa.
According to the Staten Island Advance, hundreds attended the protest, which was held near the Gracie Mansion in Manhattan just days before the mandate is set to go into effect. Republican city councilman Joseph Borelli said at the event, according to the newspaper, “Now we have a city where there are two classes of people. There are people who made the choice to get the vaccine — great. There are people who made the choice to not get the vaccine — great. The era of collective sacrifice is over. The era of individual, personal responsibility on COVID is here.”
Another man in a baseball hat who could be seen in both the Subway video and in photos at the Republican rally has been identified by some on social media as a high school and college friend of Bartels. Heavy was not immediately able to confirm his name.