On August 5, a major altercation broke out on the Montgomery Riverfront in Alabama, and the victim reported that he “held on for dear life” as a group of white boaters jumped him.
Dameion Pickett recounted the events of August 5 when the men refused to move their boat so a dinner cruise riverboat could land in a handwritten affidavit he filed with law authorities after the melee and which was obtained by NBC News. “A tall, older white guy came over and hit me in the face. I took my hat off and threw it in the air,” he wrote.
“Somebody hit me from behind. I started choking the older guy in front of me so he couldn’t anymore, pushing him back at the same time.” Pickett has declined to reply to NBC News and has not issued a public statement.
Social media videos of an attack on Pickett by a gang of white guys went viral. After the video went viral, the mayor of Montgomery spoke out about the incident, and police issued arrest warrants.
A Montgomery Police Department representative confirmed that Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25, have each been charged with one count of misdemeanor assault in the third degree. Richard Roberts, 48, brought himself in on August 8 in connection with two counts of third-degree assault.
Mary Todd, age 21, brought herself in on August 10 and was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault, making her the fourth suspect in the case.
Reggie Ray, age 42, the fifth suspect, surrendered to police on August 11 and was charged with disorderly behavior. Ray was already wanted by the police since he was captured on camera using a folding chair to contribute to the chaos. What transpired, then?
Montgomery police have arrested the man who is accused of wielding a folding chair as a weapon during Saturday’s riverfront brawl.
Reggie Gray, 42, turned himself in Friday, and officers have charged him with disorderly conduct, Capt. Jarrett Williams said in an email.
Gray is… pic.twitter.com/zBbMBgtE22
— SIR MAEJOR – AMERICA FIRST 🇺🇸 (@REALSIRMAEJOR) August 11, 2023
What went down on the Banks of the Montgomery River?
Witnesses told NBC News that a big altercation broke out in the Alabama capital on Saturday, August 5, shortly before 7 p.m., as Pickett sought to clear a wharf along the river so that the Harriott II Riverboat could land. Alcohol and excitement, witnesses say, escalated the fight.
Witnesses say Pickett was attacked by a group of drunken boaters when he untied their vessel to make room for a riverboat on the Montgomery River. Video provided to NBC News shows that while a group of white guys ran along the pier to harass a Black worker, others quickly rushed to his defense.
Police tried to maintain order as seen in other film supplied to NBC News, which shows individuals pushing and striking each other and one guy falling into the sea. A park, stadium, amphitheater, and riverboat all contribute to the Riverfront’s appeal.
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The Police Report on the Altercation
At a press conference on August 8, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert said that a group of private white boaters had attacked a Black dockworker named Pickett. The authorities eventually determined that Pickett was the riverboat’s assistant captain. He was attempting to displace the pontoon used by private boaters so that the riverboat could pass.
Pickett tried to urge the unruly private boaters to move as the more than 200 guests on the riverboat waited for at least 30 minutes. When Pickett tried to intervene, some of the private pontoon group attacked, according to Albert.
Albert noted that it took the police around 18 minutes from the time the riverboat captain requested for help (7:18 p.m. local time) to arrive on the spot. A total of thirteen persons, he said, were detained, questioned, and then let go.
What did the dockworker who was attacked have to say about what happened?
Pickett claimed he asked the group “five or six times” to relocate their boat in a handwritten statement filed with police and obtained by NBC News.
After being ignored and given the finger, he and a dockhand allegedly untied the group’s pontoon boat, repositioned it “three steps to the right,” and re-tied it to a pole so the Harriott II could dock.
“By that time, two people ran up behind me,” Pickett wrote, adding that a man in a red hat yelled, “Don’t touch that boat motherf—er or we will beat your ass.” He claimed that the men kept making threats and that eventually one of them summoned another man to join in.
“They both were very drunk,” Pickett wrote, adding that then the pontoon boat owner went over “started getting loud … He got into my face.” ‘This belongs to the f—ing public.’ I told him this was a city dock.” The fight broke out at that point. A tall, older white guy walked up to me and punched me in the face,” Pickett recalled.
The cap was removed and tossed carelessly. I took a blow to the back of the head. I pushed him back while choking the elder man in front of me till he couldn’t move. Adding, “Then the guy in the red shorts came up and tackled me … I went to the ground. I think I hit one of them.”
I can’t tell you how long it lasted,” he continued, recalling further details of the conflict. The only thing I could do was grab one and hang on for dear life. Even though others came to rescue Pickett, he noted that the battle had gotten out of hand: “One of my co-workers had jumped into the water and was pushing people and fighting.”
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He further mentioned that his nephew had entered the fray and that he had witnessed his sister being suffocated. Even though the riverboat wasn’t secured to the wharf, Pickett assisted the passengers in disembarking. He expressed regret “for the inconvenience” in his letter. “I did nothing wrong, they said,”
I got some business cards with their contact info on it from a few of them. “I knew a few people who claimed to have footage of everything, so I referred them to MPD,” he continued. He went to the emergency hospital after the fight and received treatment for his damaged ribs and bumps to the head.
Accounts from Onlookers to the fight
NBC News reported a consistent story from witnesses. Christa Owen claimed that she and her husband and children were on the Harriott II when the fight occurred. “What was hard is we were all on the boat and witnessing our poor crewman being attacked by these guys, and we couldn’t do anything about it,” Owen said.
Owen elaborated, “It was really hard to watch, and, like I said, we felt helpless because we were forced to be spectators.” Owen was one of the witnesses who taped the fights and afterwards described the participants’ actions as “inexcusable.” They just didn’t think the regulations applied to them,” Leslie Mawhorter, another Harriott II crew member, said.
We could have prevented it. There was no need for this to take place. From there, things went downhill quickly. They had this whole, ‘You can’t tell us what to do’ mentality, so I just knew something was going to go down. Mawhorter elaborated, “They were antagonistic no matter who you were.
Any Detentions by the Police?
Police said that Richard Roberts, 48, Reggie Ray, 42, Allen Todd, 23, Zachery Shipman, 25, and Mary Todd, 21 are all suspects. The events that unfolded were unnecessary, Albert told reporters earlier this week. Everyone in Montgomery knows that we can do better than that. We don’t want this kind of thing to cast a negative light on our city since people come here to have a good time.
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Was the Fight Racially Motivated?
Investigators do not believe the event was ethnically motivated, Albert said at a press briefing on August 8. According to him, the local FBI office and the office of the district attorney are also involved in the probe.
“I don’t think you can judge any community by any one incident. I think it’s important for us to address this as an isolated incident, one that was avoidable,” Albert said. “One that was brought on by individuals who chose the wrong path of action.”
Here is what Montgomery’s Mayor had to Say about the Incident
A statement issued by Mayor Steven L. Reed on August 6 promised that “justice will be served” after a group of people attacked “a man who was doing his job.” “Last night, the Montgomery Police Department acted swiftly to detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job. Warrants have been signed and justice will be served,” the statement posted on social media read.
“This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred. As our police department investigates these intolerable actions, we should not become desensitized to violence of any kind in our community.” The statement ended with the words, “Those who choose violent actions will be held accountable by our criminal justice system.”
At a press conference on August 7, Reed discussed his reaction to the incident. “I feel like it’s an unfortunate incident. Our statement that we put out the other day is that it’s something that shouldn’t have happened and it’s something that we’re investigating right now,” Reed said. “We’ll continue to go through that process before we take any additional steps.”
Upon being questioned if he believed the event to be racially charged, Reed stated that investigators are still looking into the brawl and are “investigating all angles.”
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