The captain says the men accused in the fight in Montgomery were “trouble” on the riverboat.

The captain says the men accused in the fight in Montgomery were "trouble" on the riverboat.

On Tuesday, three White men were charged with assault after they allegedly attacked a Black co-captain on a riverboat in Montgomery, Alabama, sparking a brawl that broke out along racial lines. According to Harriott II’s captain, the men had been a problem before and had been asked to move their pontoon boat so the riverboat could dock.

 

Co-captain Damien Pickett was attacked over the weekend, and Harriott II captain Jim Kittrell informed the media that he felt the incident was “racially motivated.”

 

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl J. Albert said during a press conference that there are four active warrants for third-degree misdemeanor assault for the attack on Pickett on a wharf at Riverfront Park. The suspects are Richard Roberts, 48, Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25.

 

Montgomery Police Major Saba Coleman informed The Washington Post that Roberts turned himself in and is now in detention on charges of assault against a 16-year-old White child. As of Wednesday morning, according to Coleman, neither Todd nor Shipman had turned themselves in. She also said that 42-year-old Black male Reggie Grey, who can be seen on film beating individuals with a folding chair during the incident, has not turned himself in despite police requests that he do so.

 

Three white guys have been arrested for their alleged involvement in an attack on an African-American man along the Montgomery Riverfront.

After consulting with the FBI, law enforcement determined that they could not press hate crime or incite riot charges against the White guys. But Kittrell emphasized to WACV in Montgomery that he thought the attack on Pickett, 43, was racial in nature, saying that the riverboat employees had previously “had trouble” with the boaters from Selma, Ala.

 

Kittrell, who is White, told the Daily Beast on Tuesday that he believes the White men who assaulted his deckhand did so out of racism. “My deckhand was a senior deckhand and first mate,” he said. Simply raising their boat by three feet was all he accomplished. Just because you pushed their boat up a few feet doesn’t justify six guys trying to beat the heck out of you. I believe that the assault on Damien was motivated by racism.

 

He later clarified on the radio program “News & Views with Joey Clark” that the fight that ensued after Pickett was first attacked “was not a Black-and-White thing.”

 

On Wednesday morning, neither Pickett nor Kittrell, who is 62 years old, immediately replied to demands for comment.

 

The charges against Roberts, Todd, and Shipman were announced by Albert three days after footage of the fight went viral, an event that Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed (D) described as “an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.”

 

Reed, Montgomery’s first Black mayor, said, “This is not indicative of who we are.” After Todd and Shipman “did not honor their agreement to surrender to authorities,” Reed stated Wednesday that police “will do what it takes to bring them to justice.”

 

The facts regarding the fight on the Montgomery Riverfront

On Saturday, the Black co-captain, Pickett, was seen fighting with one of the white pontoon boaters, and a second white guy was seen charging at Pickett and hitting him in the face on video that quickly went viral online. Before they collide, Pickett throws his hat into the air. According to footage released online, shortly after Pickett collapses on the pier, he is surrounded by several White guys who begin punching him.

 

There seems to be a number of persons, both white and black, who leap into the water to assist Pickett and another who swims from the riverboat to the pier in an effort to assist the co-captain. A group of Black guys were seen on camera assaulting the White boaters after the initial commotion subsided. After more than a minute of fighting, police arrived and arrested one of the Black guys, who was later identified as Grey. Grey is seen in the video smacking a White lady in the head with a folding chair. Someone was thrown off the pier into the sea.

 

According to Albert, the police questioned and released 13 persons. The police chief said that “no stone was unturned” before choosing not to file more severe charges against Roberts, Todd, and Shipman.

 

“We examined this over a period of time, not only that night but since that night,” he said to reporters. We were unable to submit any inciting a riot or racially biased accusations at this time due to the way the statutes are written.

 

According to the Selma Times-Journal, Kittrell has been the captain of the Harriott II for the last 13 years. Before that, the riverboat was known as the Savannah River Queen out of Savannah, Georgia. According to his interview with the Daily Beast, he has known Pickett for around ten years, ever since they worked together on the Harriott II, a replica of a 19th-century riverboat that serves as part of Montgomery’s famous Riverfront Park and features supper, dance, and live entertainment.

 

This week, the riverboat’s captain said that the three White males were part of the same gang of pontoon boaters from Selma with whom he’s had problems in the past.

 

On Monday, he told the Montgomery radio station, “We’ve had trouble with them in the past, but just jokey things.”

 

He mentioned an incident from a few years ago in which one of the golf carts on the riverboat went gone after passengers got back from a trip. According to Kittrell, the gang stole it and dumped it in the Hampton Inn lobby.

 

“We looked at the Hampton Inn video, found out who did it, and we had them come down,” the riverboat captain said to the radio station. To paraphrase, “We were going to press charges then, but the police talked us out of it.”

 

But what happened on Saturday, he added, was quite different. Using the public address system, Kittrell urged the pontoon boat’s occupants “about five times,” as he remembered, to move the boat so that the riverboat could dock. According to Kittrell’s radio interview, he threatened to call the police on the boaters, and “they started shooting birds at us,” prompting him to make good on his promise and contact the authorities.

 

At first, I was all sweetness and light, saying things like, “Please, help me out here, gentlemen. He told the Daily Beast, “Move the boat up a little bit.

 

Kittrell saw Pickett being assaulted by men from Selma not long after Pickett tried to push the pontoon boat forward a few feet.

 

We’re standing maybe 30 or 40 yards from the pier and can see everything that’s happening. It’s hopeless; he told the radio station. Just then, another man dashes up. A full-scale fight broke out within a minute. After that, I saw other men approaching and thought, “Oh. I appreciate God’s grace. It’s going to be dismantled by them. Instead of stopping the fight, they jumped him as well. So there were like six or seven men on my deckhand attempting to move the boat at one point.

 

Kittrell insisted that the assault on Pickett was driven by racism, but he stressed that the remainder of the altercation, which also seemed to be divided along racial lines, was different from the first confrontation. He praised the Harriott II crew for protecting Pickett from the assault.

 

“Everyone involved was only trying to assist a fellow crew member. Those “little green men” might have been anything, he told the Daily Beast. My team was going to rush to Damien’s aid as soon as they heard about the assault. All it was was my group defending their comrade from the attackers.

 

 

 

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