Several people detained after fight breaks out at Montgomery’s Riverfront Park in Alabama

harriott ii riverboat fight

Update : Montgomery police say 4 active warrants out after brawl at Riverfront Park in Alabama

Several people were taken into custody Saturday night after a fight broke out at Montgomery’s Riverfront Park in Alabama, authorities said.

The Montgomery Police Department responded to a disturbance at the 200 block of Coosa Street in Montgomery, Alabama, at 7 p.m. after a large group of people were fighting. Several people were detained, police said.

A video of the incident, which appeared to be racially divided, was shared Sunday on social media. It’s been reported that it began because a pontoon boat was blocking dock space needed to park a riverboat. That area is the regular spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat.

Watch the video to see the massive boat deck brawl that led to several people being detained.

One short video, posted on social media by Josh Moon of the Alabama Political Reporter, shows several white people fighting a single Black man, who according to Jasmine Williams of WSFA is a dock worker.

The only audio heard is from witnesses yelling, but it appears to begin with an argument between the Black man and one of the white men. Another white man rushes and hits the Black man, who backs up and tosses his hat into the air. Then the fight begins in earnest, and several white people begin hitting the Black man.

During the video, one witness, apparently watching from the riverboat, screamed repeatedly, “Y’all help that brother!” to onlookers who were on shore. It appears some people from the shore did join in to defend him, and the video shows at least one Black man dive into the water from the riverboat.

“Get up there, young buck!” yelled another voice on the video.

By the time the swimmer climbed up onto the dock, about a minute into the video, most of the altercation appeared to be over in Moon's video.

A separate video posted by Lauryn Lauren shows scenes after that, as the Harriott II was preparing to dock. A group of people approached the pontoon boat, and more fighting broke out. At least one person fell into the water from the dock. Authorities were soon on the scene and police began taking people into custody .

Authorities have not released the names of the detained suspects. Charges against anyone involved in the fight are pending, MPD said.

Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel can be contacted at   [email protected]

Men charged in Montgomery brawl had been ‘trouble’ for riverboat, captain says

harriott ii riverboat fight

The three White men charged with assault Tuesday after they attacked a Black riverboat co-captain in Montgomery, Ala. , and ignited a brawl largely along racial lines had previously caused problems for the Harriott II, the vessel’s captain said, and were repeatedly asked to move their pontoon boat so the riverboat could dock.

Harriott II captain Jim Kittrell told media outlets he believed the attack on co-captain Damien Pickett over the weekend was “racially motivated.”

Richard Roberts, 48; Allen Todd, 23; and Zachery Shipman, 25, were charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault in the attack on Pickett at a dock in Riverfront Park, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl J. Albert said at a news conference.

All three turned themselves in, Montgomery Police Maj. Saba Coleman told The Washington Post. She added that Roberts also has a warrant pending for striking a 16-year-old White boy, and that Reggie Gray, a 42-year-old Black man who was seen on video hitting people with a folding chair during the brawl, has not turned himself in after police called on him to do so.

White men charged with assaulting Black man in Montgomery Riverfront brawl

Authorities said that they had consulted with the FBI and would not be able to charge the White men with a hate crime or with inciting a riot. But Kittrell, who told WACV in Montgomery that riverboat staff previously “had trouble” with the boaters from Selma, Ala., emphasized that he believed the assault on Pickett, 43, was due to racism.

“The White guys that attacked my deckhand — and he was a senior deckhand first mate — I can’t think of any other reason they attacked him other than it being racially motivated,” Kittrell, who is White, told the Daily Beast on Tuesday. “All he did was move their boat up three feet. It makes no sense to have six people try to beat the snot out of you just because you moved their boat up a few feet. In my opinion, the attack on Damien was racially motivated.”

He added to radio show “ News & Views with Joey Clark ” that the brawl after the initial assault of Pickett “was not a Black-and-White thing.”

Neither Pickett nor Kittrell, 62, immediately responded to requests for comment Wednesday morning.

Albert announced the charges against Roberts, Todd and Shipman three days after videos went viral of the brawl, which was decried by Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed (D) as “an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.”

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

What we know about the Montgomery Riverfront brawl

Videos taken by onlookers and spread around the internet showed the Black co-captain, Pickett, arguing with one of the pontoon boaters on Saturday as a second White man charges at Pickett and hits him in the face. Pickett then tosses his cap into the air before the two hit each other. Almost immediately, Pickett is swarmed by several White men on the dock who throw punches while the Black man was on the ground, according to the videos posted online.

White and Black people on the dock and shore appear to jump in to try to help Pickett, and someone appears to jump off the riverboat and swim to the dock to help the co-captain. As the initial tussle calmed down, videos appeared to show a group of Black men confronting the White boaters. That fighting lasted more than a minute, with one of the Black men — allegedly Gray — being recorded hitting a White woman in the head with a folding chair and then being surrounded by police. One person seemed to get punched off the dock into the water.

Police detained 13 people for questioning, then released them, Albert said. The police chief said that “no stone was unturned” in deciding ultimately to not charge Roberts, Todd and Shipman with more serious charges.

“We examined this over a period of time, not only that night but since that night,” he told reporters. “At this time, based on the way the statutes read the laws are crafted, we were unable to present any inciting a riot or racially-biased charges.”

Kittrell has captained the Harriott II for about 13 years, steering the riverboat since it was originally known as Savannah River Queen of Savannah, Ga., according to the Selma Times-Journal . He told the Daily Beast he’s known Pickett for about 10 years during their time together on the Harriott II, a 19th-century riverboat offering dinner, dancing and live entertainment as part of Montgomery’s popular Riverfront Park.

The riverboat captain said this week that the three White men were part of a group of pontoon boaters from Selma that he’s had issues with in recent years.

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

He pointed to an instance a couple of years ago when one of the riverboat’s golf carts was missing after returning from a cruise. Kittrell said the group had taken it and left it in an odd place: the lobby of a Hampton Inn.

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

But what unfolded Saturday was different, he said. When Kittrell noticed the pontoon boat was partially blocking the area where the riverboat docks, he asked the pontoon boat’s passengers over the PA system to move the boat “about five times,” he recalled. After he threatened to call the police on the boaters, “they started shooting birds at us,” which led him to call law enforcement, Kittrell told the radio station.

“I was nice as a peach when I was talking to them at first: ‘Please, help me out here, fellas. Move the boat up a little bit,’” he told the Daily Beast.

Not long after Pickett attempted to push the pontoon boat forward a few feet, Kittrell saw his colleague get attacked by the men from Selma.

“We’re 40 yards or 30 yards away from the dock watching all of this. There’s nothing we can do,” he said to the radio station. “About that time, another guy comes running up. And within a minute or so, it was an all-out brawl. And then I saw some more guys coming, and I said, ‘Oh. Thank God. They’re going to break it up.’ But instead of breaking it up, they jumped on him too. So, at one time, it was like six, seven guys on my deckhand that was trying to move the boat.”

While Kittrell maintained that the attack on Pickett was racially motivated, he emphasized that the rest of the brawl, which appeared to be along racial lines, was not the same as the initial encounter. He said he was thankful for the Harriott II staff for standing up and coming to Pickett’s aid during the attack.

“It was just shipmates trying to help a shipmate. They could’ve been little green men, for all they cared,” he told the Daily Beast. “When they attacked Damien, my crew was gonna jump out and do the best they could to help him out. It was my crew against the people who attacked their shipmate, that’s all it was.”

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A waterfront brawl in Montgomery, Alabama, went viral. What happened and why?

The riverfront worker who was attacked said he “held on for dear life” as a group of white boaters jumped him in a large brawl that broke out at the Montgomery Riverfront in Alabama on Aug. 5.

In a handwritten account he filed with law enforcement after the Aug. 5 melee and obtained by NBC News, Dameion Pickett recalled what happened the day when the men refused to move their boat so a dinner cruise riverboat could dock.

“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 not made a public statement regarding the incident and did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Videos that went viral on social media showed a group of white men attacking Pickett. The footage caused an outcry, with the Montgomery mayor addressing the altercation and police issuing arrest warrants.

Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25, have been charged with one misdemeanor count of assault in the third degree, a spokesperson for the Montgomery Police Department said.

Another man, Richard Roberts, 48, faces two third-degree assault charges and turned himself in on Aug. 8.

A fourth suspect in the case, Mary Todd, 21, turned herself in on Aug. 10 and was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault.

A fifth suspect, Reggie Ray, 42, turned himself in on Aug. 11 and was charged with disorderly conduct. Police had previously sought Ray after he was seen wielding a folding chair in the melee on social media videos.

So what exactly happened? Read on for a full explanation of this now-viral incident.

What happened at the Montgomery Riverfront

A large brawl broke out Saturday, Aug. 5, shortly before 7 p.m. at the Alabama capital after Pickett attempted to clear a dock along the river so that the Harriott II Riverboat could dock, witnesses told NBC News . The brawl was fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, witnesses also said.

When a group of rowdy boaters refused to move their pontoon at the Montgomery Riverfront, they attacked Pickett when he untied their boat to make way for the riverboat, witnesses said.

In video shared with NBC News , after a group of what appears to be white men ran along the dock to attack the worker, who is Black, more people joined in and appeared to defend Pickett. Other footage shared with NBC News shows people punching and shoving one another, with one person falling into the water as police struggled to contain the chaos.

The Riverfront is a popular destination with a park, stadium, amphitheater and riverboat.

What police say about the fight

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert, in a news conference on Aug. 8 , confirmed that a group of private white boaters had attacked a Black dockworker, identified as Pickett. Later, police would identify Pickett as the assistant boat captain of the riverboat.

He had been trying to move the private boaters' pontoon to make way for the riverboat.

As passengers aboard the riverboat — more than 200 — waited at least 30 minutes, Pickett tried to get the rowdy private boaters to move. Several members of the private pontoon group then attacked Pickett, Albert said.

Albert added that police arrived on the scene at 7:18 p.m. local time — about 18 minutes after the riverboat captain had called. He said 13 people were detained, questioned and then released.

What did the attacked dockworker say about the incident?

In a handwritten statement filed with police and obtained by NBC News, Pickett said he asked the group “five or six times” to move their boat.

When he and a dockhand were ignored and given the finger, he says, they untied the group’s pontoon boat, moved it “three steps to the right” and re-tied it to a post 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 said the men continued to threaten him and then one of them called another man over.

“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.”

That’s when the brawl began. Pickett wrote, “A tall, older white guy came over and hit me in the face. I took my hat off and threw it in the air. 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.”

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.”

Sharing more recollections from the fight, he said, “I can’t tell you how long it lasted. I grabbed one of them and just held on for dear life.”

Pickett was eventually helped by other people but noticed the brawl was getting out of hand, writing, “One of my co-workers had jumped into the water and was pushing people and fighting.”

He added that his nephew joined the melee and he had also seen his sister being choked during the fight.

As more chaos ensued, the riverboat had not been tied to the dock but Pickett helped the passengers off the boat. He wrote that he apologized “for the inconvenience. They all said I did nothing wrong.”

“Some of them were giving me cards with their names and numbers on it. Some said they had it all on film, so I pointed them out to MPD,” he added. After the altercation, he was treated at the emergency room where he was treated for bruised ribs and bumps on his head.

What witnesses say about the brawl

Witnesses told NBC News a similar version of events. Christa Owen said she was aboard the Harriott II with her husband and daughter when the brawl broke out.

“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.

“It was really difficult to watch, and, like I said, we felt helpless, because we were forced to be spectators,” Owen added.

Owen was among those who recorded the altercations, explaining that it was “inexcusable behavior.”

Additionally, Leslie Mawhorter also on Harriott II, added: “They just didn’t think the rules applied to them. It was so avoidable. This never had to have happened. Everything just spiraled from there.”

“I knew something was going to go down, because their attitude was just, ‘You can’t tell us what to do.’ They were going to be confrontational regardless of who you were,” Mawhorter continued.

Have police made any arrests?

Four men and one woman are facing charges , according to police: Richard Roberts, 48; Reggie Ray, 42; Allen Todd, 23; and Zachery Shipman, 25, and Mary Todd, 21.

“There was no need for this event to take the path it did,” Albert told reporters earlier this week. “The people of Montgomery, we’re better than that. We’re a fun city, and we don’t want this type of activity to shed a dark eye on what this city’s all about.”

Was the fight racially motivated?

In the press conference on Aug. 8, Albert said investigators do not believe the incident was racially motivated.

He said that the local FBI and district attorney’s offices are involved in the ongoing investigation. 

“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.”

What the mayor of Montgomery said about the altercation

On Sunday, Aug. 6, Mayor Steven L. Reed released a statement saying that “justice will be served” after individuals 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.”

“Those who choose violent actions will be held accountable by our criminal justice system,” the statement concluded.

Reed shared how he felt about the incident during a press conference on Aug. 7.

"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."

When asked if Reed thought the incident was racially charged, he said the brawl is still under investigation, and that authorities are "investigating all angles."

The investigation is ongoing.

EDITOR'S NOTE (Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. ET): Previous police statements listed the man attacked as Damien Pickett and one of the suspects as Zachary Shipman. On Aug. 11, officials corrected their names' spellings to Dameion Pickett and Zachery Shipman. This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling.

Liz Calvario is a Los Angeles-based reporter and editor for TODAY.com who covers entertainment, pop culture and trending news.

harriott ii riverboat fight

Anna Kaplan is a news and trending reporter for TODAY.com.

harriott ii riverboat fight

Sam Kubota is a senior digital editor and journalist for TODAY Digital based in Los Angeles. She joined NBC News in 2019.

Witnesses recount brawl at Montgomery riverfront

Witnesses say a large brawl that broke out on an Alabama riverfront Saturday was fueled by alcohol and adrenaline. 

Bystanders said the incident began when a worker tried to clear the dock along the Alabama River so the Harriott II Riverboat could dock. A group of rowdy boaters refused to move their pontoon and attacked the dock worker when he untied the boat to make way for the Harriott II.

“They just didn’t think the rules applied to them. It was so avoidable. This never had to have happened,” a witness, Leslie Mawhorter, 52, who was aboard the Harriott II, said in an interview. Video of the incident shows a group of what appear to be white men running to the boardwalk one by one and attacking the worker, who is Black. 

The man who was initially attacked and the people involved in the fight have not been publicly named. 

“Everything just spiraled from there,” Mawhorter said. “I knew something was going to go down, because their attitude was just, ‘You can’t tell us what to do.’ They were going to be confrontational regardless of who you were.” 

A spokesperson for the city Parks & Recreation, which oversees the riverboat attractions, declined to comment. The Montgomery Riverfront is a popular summertime destination with a riverboat, a park, an amphitheater, a stadium and more. 

After the initial attack, several people appeared to rush to the worker’s defense, one of them even swimming from the Harriott II over to the dock to take part in the brawl. Mawhorter said officers turned to the onlookers for help identifying the aggressors. “They were listening to us and to other people telling them who was involved and who needed to be cuffed,” she said.

Montgomery police had multiple people in handcuffs by the end of the melee, which started shortly before 7 p.m., and there were at least three active warrants for people believed to have been involved afterward, according to NBC affiliate WSFA .

Mayor Steven L. Reed said in a statement Sunday: “The Montgomery Police Department acted swiftly to detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job. Warrants are being signed and justice will be served.” 

He reiterated his response at a news conference Monday, calling the fight “an unfortunate incident.” He said police are still investigating. 

Christa Owen, 47, was on the Harriott II with her husband and their daughter when the fight began. She and Mawhorter said they and the other passengers had been waiting several minutes for the group to move their pontoon and allow the Harriott to dock. Owen said the worker who was attacked was initially the only crew member trying to handle the rowdy boaters.

“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. “It was really difficult to watch, and, like I said, we felt helpless, because we were forced to be spectators.”

Two men discuss the location of a boat at the Montgomery Riverfront, Alabama, on Aug. 5, 2023.

Owen said she decided to record the incident to make sure the “right people” were arrested. Her and Mawhorter’s videos were among many that began circulating on the internet. Many social media users have shared memes and colorful commentary, noting that the combatants were split along racial lines. Many praised the group of Black men for coming to the Black worker’s defense as he battled the group of white men. 

“It was inexcusable behavior,” Owen said, adding that she believes alcohol was a factor. “I can’t imagine anyone just disregarding moving their boat 2 feet so that a three-story dinner cruise boat could park back in that spot.”

CORRECTION (August 8, 2023, 11:12 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the day that the incident took place. It was Saturday, not Sunday.

harriott ii riverboat fight

Char Adams is a reporter for NBC BLK who writes about race.

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Riverfront brawl brings unwelcome attention to historic civil rights city in Alabama

Police in Montgomery, Alabama, said three people are expected to be in custody Tuesday on charges including misdemeanor assault in connection with a riverfront brawl that drew nationwide attention. (Aug. 8)

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed speaks a news conference at City Hall in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday August 8, 2023, to discuss a riverfront brawl. Listening at right is Police Chief Darryl Albert. Video circulating on social media showed a large melee Saturday, Aug. 5, that appeared to begin when a crew member of a city-operated riverboat tried to get a pontoon boat moved that was blocking the riverboat from docking.(Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed speaks a news conference at City Hall in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday August 8, 2023, to discuss a riverfront brawl. Listening at right is Police Chief Darryl Albert. Video circulating on social media showed a large melee Saturday, Aug. 5, that appeared to begin when a crew member of a city-operated riverboat tried to get a pontoon boat moved that was blocking the riverboat from docking.(Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

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Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, left, listens as Police Chief Darryl Albert speaks a news conference at City Hall in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, to discuss a riverfront brawl. Video circulating on social media showed a large melee Saturday, Aug. 5, that appeared to begin when a crew member of a city-operated riverboat tried to get a pontoon boat moved that was blocking the riverboat from docking.(Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

The Harriott II riverboat sits docked in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. A riverfront brawl occurred on Aug. 5 when a crew member was punched for trying to move a pontoon boat that was blocking the riverboat from docking. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Three white boaters in Alabama’s capital city will be charged with misdemeanor assault for a riverfront brawl with a Black boat captain that drew nationwide attention, with more charges likely to come, police said.

Videos of the incident, which circulated widely on social media, have proven crucial in investigating what happened, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert said. One person has turned himself in and the other two have agreed to turn themselves in by the end of the day Tuesday.

“The investigation is ongoing and more charges are likely,” Albert said.

The fight was largely split along racial lines and began when a moored pontoon boat blocked the Harriott II riverboat from docking in its designated space along the city’s riverfront, Albert said. The Harriott II had 227 passengers aboard for a tour.

The viral video of white boaters assaulting a Black riverboat captain and the following melee brought unwelcome attention to the historic city — which is known across the country for the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s and voting rights marches in the 1960s. The city in recent decades has tried to move beyond its reputation as a site of racial tension and to build a tourism trade instead based on its critical role in the Civil Rights Movement.

“I don’t think you can judge any community by any one incident. This is not indicative of who we are,” Mayor Steven Reed said Tuesday. He noted that the people on the pontoon boat were not from Montgomery. “It’s important for us to address this as an isolated incident, one that was avoidable and one that was brought on by individuals who chose the wrong path of action,” Reed said.

FILE - Death Row building at the Louisiana State Penitentiary Friday, Sept. 18, 2009, in Angola, La. An effort from Louisiana's Jewish community to remove the use of nitrogen gas from the list of possible methods to carry out the death penalty in the state was blocked by a conservative legislative committee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Judi Bottoni, File)

Before the fight began, the riverboat captain tried to contact the pontoon boat owner by loudspeaker. People on the other boat responded with “obscene gestures, curse words and taunting,” the police chief said. The riverboat co-captain took another vessel to shore to attempt to move the pontoon boat and “was attacked by several members of the private boat.” Albert said several people from the riverboat came to the co-captain’s defense, “engaging in what we all have seen since on social media.”

Video captured by bystanders showed that once the Harriott II docked, several people from the riverboat rushed to confront the people on the pontoon boat and more fighting broke out. The video showed people being shoved, punched and kicked, and one man hitting someone with a chair. At least one person was knocked into the water.

“The co-captain was doing his job. He was simply trying to move the boat just enough so the cruise ship could park safely, but it quickly escalated,” Albert said.

The police chief said so far the charges are against people from the pontoon boat who assaulted the co-captain and a 16-year-old who got involved. Police are trying to locate and question the man with the chair.

The fight took place along Montgomery’s downtown riverfront in an area where slaveowners once unloaded people from steam boats to be sold at auction.

Now, the city has developed the area into a tourist and recreation place with restaurants, bars and hotels. The Harriott II take tourists on sightseeing trips with food and entertainment, along the Alabama River.

The brawl sparked dozens of internet memes and videos with some joking that the chair should be placed in a local museum.

Albert said while some made racial taunts, the police department does not believe the motivation behind the fight rises to the standard of a hate crime. Alcohol is believed to be an escalating factor, he said.

Christa Owen of Clanton was aboard the riverboat with her husband and their daughter for a dinner cruise to celebrate the daughter’s 12th birthday. She said the riverboat captain said on loudspeaker: “Black pontoon boat, move your boat,” and that passengers also yelled for the boat to move so they could dock.

“They shrugged their shoulders,” Owen said. She said the crew member, identified by police as the co-captain of the riverboat, got off to move the pontoon boat a few feet. Owen said the tension was obvious and mounting before punches were thrown. She said passengers felt helpless as they watched the co-captain get pummeled by several people on shore.

Owen, a stay-at-home mom, filmed the confrontation as it began on the dock. She said as a “mother of many” she knows the importance of being able to document how a conflict started. Once the boat was able to dock, she said her family had to figure out how to get off the boat safely with the fighting going on around them.

“It didn’t have to escalate to that,” she said.

harriott ii riverboat fight

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What is the Harriott II, riverboat involved in Montgomery riverfront brawl?

  • Updated: Aug. 13, 2023, 1:54 p.m. |
  • Published: Aug. 11, 2023, 5:00 a.m.

Harriott II

The Harriott II riverboat sits docked in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. A riverfront brawl occurred on Aug. 5 when a crew member was punched for trying to move a pontoon boat that was blocking the riverboat from docking. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

The Harriott II riverboat has been in the news lately, figuring into the infamous riverfront brawl in Montgomery that happened on Saturday, Aug. 5, and quickly captured national attention via viral videos.

The videos showed a Black riverboat co-captain attacked by a group of white people as other Black people rushed to his defense. As of Friday morning, Aug. 12, four people had been charged with assault in connection to the large fight, and another was being sought for questioning in connection with the incident.

The melee was ignited, police said, when the Harriott II, which had been out on the Alabama River for a dinner cruise, was trying to dock in a spot that had been designated and reserved for the riverboat. A private pontoon boat was docked too close to the spot, and the captain used a public address system to try to find the pontoon’s occupants and get them to move it.

The Harriott’s co-captain, Damien Pickett, was taken by a smaller boat to the dock to try to address the situation. That’s when a confrontation ensued between Pickett and some of the pontoon boat occupants.

READ: Montgomery riverboat crew says they were attacked by drunk people yelling n word, records state

“The co-captain was doing his job,” Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert told CNN . “He was simply trying to move the boat in just enough to where the cruise ship could park safely in its identified location. However, it quickly escalated.”

Police responded to break up the fight, and 13 people were detained and questioned for several hours Saturday, officials said. Meanwhile, videos taken by bystanders during the brawl were posted on social media, causing a national sensation. An investigation is ongoing, police said.

READ: Montgomery Riverfront Park brawl: 2 defendants jailed on assault charges

The Harriott II, a familiar sight on the river, might have been taken for granted by folks in Montgomery in the past, but no longer. Recent comments on the Harriott’s Facebook page , both positive and negative, have mentioned the brawl, and the incident has significantly raised the riverboat’s profile.

So what is the Harriott II? What role does it serve on the city’s entertainment and tourism landscape? What services does it provide, and how much does it cost to ride? If you’re unfamiliar with the riverboat, here’s a primer.

Harriott II riverboat

The Harriott II riverboat sails down the Alabama River in March 2013 at Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery, Alabama. (AL.com file photo/Julie Bennett)

What is the Harriott II?

The Harriott II, a 19th-century riverboat, offers public and private cruises on the Alabama River. The riverboat is part of Montgomery’s entertainment district, and was part of a downtown revitalization effort in the city that revved up in 2008-2009.

Right now, Montgomery’s website for parks and recreation and special events touts the Harriott II as “center stage of Montgomery’s entertainment district.” The City of Montgomery website lauds the Harriott II as a prime attraction on its “vibrant riverfront,” and also points to “ballets, sports complexes, museums, civil rights memorials, city parks.”

The Harriott II arrived in Montgomery in October 2008 , after taking a 1,400-mile trip that took about 28 days from its origin in Savannah, Georgia. The Montgomery Riverfront Development Foundation paid about $500,000 for the riverboat as an entertainment and tourist attraction, according to a report by WFSA TV , an NBC affiliate in Montgomery. Reports at the time said the riverboat could hold up to 400 passengers.

The Harriott II is maintained and managed by the City of Montgomery/Riverfront Facilities, according to an online brochure with rental information.

Right now, the riverboat offers regularly scheduled cruises for the public on Fridays through Sundays through October. There’s a two-hour dinner cruise on Fridays at 6:30 p.m., a two-hour getaway cruise on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and a two-hour blues cruise on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Food, drinks, and live entertainment are part of the cruises.

Tickets are $30-$55 for adults, $15-$35 for children. Packages for birthdays and anniversaries cost $49.95-$79.95, the riverboat’s website says. The agenda trims to Saturdays and Sundays in November. (See this online brochure for details.)

People board the Harriott II about a half-hour before departure, at 255 Commerce St. near Riverfront Park . Tickets can be bought online or at the box office at 213 Commerce St. At least 35 paying customers must be on board for a cruise, the brochure says. About 227 people were on the Harriott when the riverfront brawl happened on Aug. 5, according to CNN.

Charter rentals for the Harriott II range from $3,700 to $10,500, depending on the day, the cruise and the services provided. There’s also an educational cruise that lasts one hour and has a minimum of 75 passengers, with historic narration and a box lunch, that costs $22 per person.

The Harriott II has scheduled several specialty cruises this year, including a Halloween costume party cruise on Oct. 28; a murder mystery cruise on Nov. 19; holiday cruises Dec. 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16; and a New Year’s Eve cruise on Dec. 31.

Food entrees on the riverboat range from barbecue chicken to beef tips over rice to spaghetti and meatballs, according to the rental brochure, and grill area offers burgers, wings, nachos and other casual fare. Beer, wine, liquor and specialty drinks are available at the bar.

The Harriott II has a rating of 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor , based on 82 reviews. It’s got 4.5 stars on Google, based on 300 reviews.

MORE ON THE RIVERFRONT BRAWL:

21-year-old woman is 4th person charged in Montgomery riverboat brawl

3 white men in pontoon boat charged in Montgomery brawl; Black man with chair sought for questioning

Johnson: Montgomery brawl defenders embody broader Black resolve, ‘Not today, y’all’

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Suspects detained after Saturday night brawl on Riverfront Park dock

Fight began between several white people and one black man, apparently over dock space reserved for riverboat..

harriott ii riverboat fight

Several people were taken into custody Saturday night after a fight on the dock at Montgomery’s Riverfront Park.

A video of the incident, which appeared to be racially divided, was shared Sunday on social media.

Montgomery police said they responded to a disturbance at the 200 block of Coosa Street at 7 p.m. According to MPD, a large group of people were fighting. Several were detained, MPD said.

The brawl was captured on video by onlookers. It’s been reported that it began because a pontoon boat was blocking dock space needed to park a riverboat. That area is the regular spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat.

On Sunday, MPD said there were four active warrants issued from the fight, with a possibility of more after review of additional videos.

More: Montgomery dock brawl: Racial issue? Maybe. Lack of humanity? Definitely

"Last night, the Montgomery Police Department acted swiftly to detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job," Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed said Sunday in a release on social media. "Warrants have been signed and justice will be served."

One short video, posted on social media by Josh Moon of the Alabama Political Reporter, shows several white people fighting a single Black man, riverboat co-captain Damieon Pickett. The only audio heard is from witnesses yelling, but it appears to begin with an argument between Pickett and one of the white men. Another white man rushes and hits Pickett, who backs up and tosses his hat into the air. Then the brawl begins in earnest, and several white people begin hitting Pickett.

During the video, one witness, apparently watching from the riverboat, screamed repeatedly, “Y’all help that brother!” to onlookers who were on shore. It appears some people from the shore did join in to defend Pickett, and the video shows at least one Black teenager dive into the water from the riverboat.

“Get up there, young buck!” yelled another voice on the video.

By the time the swimmer climbed up onto the dock, about a minute into the video, most of the altercation appeared to be over in Moon's video.

A separate video posted by Lauryn Lauren shows scenes after that, as the Harriott II was preparing to dock. A group of people approached the pontoon boat, and more fighting broke out. At least one person fell into the water from the dock. Authorities were soon on the scene and police began taking people into custody .

"This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred," Reed said. "As our police department investigates these intolerable actions, we should not become desensitized to violence of any kind in our community. Those who choose violence will be held accountable by our criminal justice system."

Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel can be contacted at   [email protected]

5 Montgomery riverfront brawl suspects enter not guilty pleas

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - We now know what’s next for the five suspects arrested following the Montgomery riverfront brawl that grabbed nationwide attention in early August. Two of the suspects appeared in court Friday, nearly a month after the incident was captured on multiple cameras.

Montgomery police say it all started because a private boat was blocking the dock reserved for the city-owned Harriott II Riverboat. After attempts to get the boatowners to move, multiple people became involved in a fight that resulted in multiple arrests.

Two of the suspects, Mary Todd and Richard Roberts, stood before a judge Friday, entering not guilty pleas during their arraignments on misdemeanor charges at the Montgomery Municipal Court.

“My client is innocent until proven guilty,” said Roberts’ attorney, Richard White, who wants to make sure in this process his client is treated fairly given the national attention the case has received.

“That’s a scary slope, in my opinion, has no business in a courtroom of law and a criminal matter, really any matter,” White said, “but as a criminal defense lawyer, former prosecutor, it doesn’t. The media shouldn’t dictate outcomes or put pressure on any agency to decide guilt that should be done.”

White says the focus now is to prepare for trial.

“I respect the city and the job they have to do,” he explained. “I hope you know, we’re trying to get all the evidence, all the video cameras from down there, and I hope all that will be turned over.”

(L-R) Richard Roberts, Mary Todd, Allen Todd, Zachary Shipman and Reggie Ray.

Of the five suspects, each has pleaded not guilty. They include:

  • Mary Todd (charged with assault) - Appeared in court Friday morning, entered a plea of not guilty.
  • Richard Roberts (charged with assault) – Appeared in court Friday morning, entered a plea of not guilty.
  • Zachary Shipman (charged with assault) – Wednesday his attorney entered a plea for him of not guilty.
  • Allen Todd (charged with assault) – Wednesday his attorney entered a plea for him of not guilty.
  • Reggie Ray (charged with disorderly conduct) - Wednesday his attorney entered a plea for him of not guilty.

A trial date for all five suspects is set for Sept. 26.

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert previously said MPD did not believe race was a factor in the fight and that they consulted with state and federal partners who felt there was not enough information to consider the incident a hate crime.

PREVIOUS MONTGOMERY BRAWL COVERAGE

  • 5th suspect arrested in Montgomery riverfront brawl
  • Woman arrested in connection to Montgomery riverfront brawl
  • Co-captain in Montgomery riverfront brawl: ‘I was just doing my job’
  • 2 more Montgomery riverfront brawl suspects surrender to police
  • Riverfront brawl brings unwelcome attention to historic civil rights city in Alabama
  • Local attorney says more charges are possible after Montgomery riverfront brawl
  • Montgomery police, mayor give update on Riverfront brawl

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Montgomery riverboat co-captain says he was hanging on ‘for dear life’ in brawl

Damien Pickett, who is Black, describes being attacked by white boaters after attempting to move their pontoon boat

An Alabama boat co-captain was hanging on “for dear life” as men punched and tackled him on the riverfront of the state’s capital city, he told police after video of the brawl circulated widely online.

Damein Pickett, a crew member of the Harriott II in Montgomery, described the brawl in a handwritten statement to authorities included in court documents, saying he was attacked after moving a pontoon boat a few feet so the city-owned riverboat could dock.

Four white boaters have been charged with misdemeanor assault in the attack against Pickett, who is Black, as well as a teen deckhand, who was punched and is white. The deckhand’s mother heard a racial slur before Pickett was hit, she wrote in a statement.

A fifth person, a Black man who appeared to be hitting people with a folding chair during the subsequent fight, has been charged with disorderly conduct, police announced on Friday.

Video of the melee sparked scores of memes and video re-enactments. But the footage also prompted commentary in some quarters about how the fight vividly illustrated the racial tension and divide across the US.

Pickett told police that the captain had asked a group on a pontoon boat “at least five or six times” to move from the riverboat’s designated docking space but they responded by “giving us the finger and packing up to leave”. Pickett and another deckhand eventually took a vessel to shore and moved the pontoon boat “three steps to the right”, he wrote.

He said two people ran rushing back, including one cursing and threatening to beat him for touching the boat. Pickett wrote that one of the men shouted that it was public dock space, but Pickett told them it was the city’s designated space for the riverboat. He said he told them he was “just doing my job”. Pickett said he was punched in the face and hit from behind.

“I went to the ground. I think I bit one of them. All I can hear Imma kill you” and beat you, he wrote. He couldn’t tell “how long it lasted” and “grabbed one of them and just held on for dear life”, Pickett wrote.

After the fight was over, Pickett said he apologized to the riverboat customers for the inconvenience as he helped them get off the boat.

The deckhand had gone with Pickett to move the pontoon boat. His mother, who was also on the Harriott, said in a statement to police that her son tried to pull the men off Pickett and was punched in the chest.

Darron Hendley, an attorney listed in court records for two of the people charged, declined to comment. It was not immediately clear if the others had an attorney to speak on their behalf.

The Montgomery mayor, Steven Reed, said on Friday that the investigation is ongoing.

Police said they consulted with the FBI and determined what happened on the riverfront did not qualify as a hate crime. Reed, the city’s first Black mayor, said he will trust the investigative process but said his “perspective as a Black man in Montgomery differs from my perspective as mayor”.

“From what we’ve seen from the history of our city – a place tied to both the pain and the progress of this nation – it seems to meet the moral definition of a crime fueled by hate, and this kind of violence cannot go unchecked,” said Reed, referring in part to Montgomery’s being the site of a bus boycott which was a pivotal moment in the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“It is a threat to the durability of our democracy, and we are grateful to our law enforcement professionals, partner organizations and the greater community for helping us ensure justice will prevail.”

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The riverfront brawl in Alabama reignites national debate over race

Dustin Jones

harriott ii riverboat fight

The Harriott II riverboat sits at the Riverfront dock in Montgomery, Ala. Three white men have been charged with assault for attacking the ship's co-captain last Saturday, which turned into a brawl along racial lines, as seen in dozens of videos online. Kim Chandler/AP hide caption

The Harriott II riverboat sits at the Riverfront dock in Montgomery, Ala. Three white men have been charged with assault for attacking the ship's co-captain last Saturday, which turned into a brawl along racial lines, as seen in dozens of videos online.

Warning: This story contains profanity and a racial slur.

Police in Montgomery, Ala., say that they have not found evidence that last weekend's riverfront brawl — in which a large number of people squared off against each along racial lines — rises to the level of a hate crime.

However, a week later, people who have seen videos of the fight, including experts, pundits and social media users, remain divided: Some are saying race had nothing to do with the incident, while others say the footage clearly shows how groups divided by race.

What's certain is that the incident has reignited conversations about race across the U.S.

I've spent my career explaining race, but hit a wall with Montgomery brawl memes

I've spent my career explaining race, but hit a wall with Montgomery brawl memes

What montgomery officials are saying.

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that the brawl doesn't meet the criteria for hate crime charges under federal law. He said that he also understands why people are raising the issue of race.

"That's why this department went above and beyond and looked under every stone for answers," Albert said, adding that the charges that were brought accurately reflect the evidence available at the time. Investigations are ongoing.

Steven L. Reed, Montgomery's first Black mayor , has promised to hold the people responsible for fight accountable. He says he has two different perspectives on the incident, one as a public servant and one as Black man.

harriott ii riverboat fight

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed (seen here on Aug. 8 speaking to the press with Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert in the background) says the people responsible for the fight will be held accountable. Julie Bennett/Getty Images hide caption

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed (seen here on Aug. 8 speaking to the press with Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert in the background) says the people responsible for the fight will be held accountable.

"At this point in the investigation, the FBI has not classified these attacks as a hate crime. As a former judge and as an elected official, I understand that and will trust this process and the integrity of our justice system," Reed said in a statement to NPR on Thursday.

"However, my perspective as a Black man in Montgomery differs from my perspective as mayor. From what we've seen from the history of our city — a place tied to both the pain and the progress of this nation – it seems to meet the moral definition, and this kind of violence cannot go unchecked."

He also says that as more information becomes available, his office will work with the U.S. Justice Department to "thoroughly vet whether new evidence reclassifies the incident as a hate crime per FBI protocol."

How the brawl unfolded

Dozens of videos of the incident last Saturday began surfacing earlier this week, including one from Alabama political reporter Josh Moon, who shared a video of the fight on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. It shows that the incident at Montgomery's Riverfront Park appears to have started after a group of people docked their pontoon boat in a space reserved for the city's riverboat, the Harriott II.

harriott ii riverboat fight

A screenshot from one of the videos of the brawl in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday. The video shows a fight that broke out between a boat co-captain and several men who appeared to be parking their pontoon boat in a space reserved for the city's riverboat. @Josh_Moon/Screenshot by NPR hide caption

A screenshot from one of the videos of the brawl in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday. The video shows a fight that broke out between a boat co-captain and several men who appeared to be parking their pontoon boat in a space reserved for the city's riverboat.

After 45 or so minutes of announcements over a loudspeaker asking for the pontoon boat to be moved, the Black co-captain of the Harriott II, named as Dameion Pickett in court documents, and a white 16-year-old deckhand, who NPR isn't naming because he's a minor, went ashore to move the craft so the riverboat could dock, said Albert, the police chief.

Pickett, 43, was confronted by several men from the pontoon boat, and heated conversation escalated to a fight. Video appears to show Richard Roberts, 48, striking Pickett first. Allen Todd and Zachery Shipman joined the fight, punching and kicking Pickett.

Another Harriott II crew member, Crystal Warren, witnessed the incident from aboard the riverboat. Her son is the 16-year-old deckhand, who was allegedly assaulted by people associated with the pontoon boat . She said in a sworn statement to police that she heard one of the men yell, "F*** that n*****" as Pickett was trying to move the vessel.

4 people are being charged with assault for the waterfront brawl in Montgomery

3 men are being charged with assault for the waterfront brawl in Montgomery

Warren also said that one of the men fighting Harriot II crew members was heard saying he was "getting his gun." She said a riverboat employee tackled the man as he appeared to try and get the weapon.

As of Friday, Roberts has been charged with two counts of 3rd degree assault, while Todd, 23 , and Shipman , 25, each face one count of 3rd degree assault. They are scheduled to be arraigned on these misdemeanor charges on Sept. 1. (A fourth person, Mary Todd, 21, has also been charged with one count of 3rd degree assault.)

NPR attempted to reach the defendants for comment, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

Why conversations about race are hard for officials

It's not surprising that authorities have been reluctant to discuss race, says Christina Ferraz , a public relations consultant who specializes in reaching communities of color.

Public officials can be risk-averse on the topic because of its general divisiveness in today's "culture wars," says Ferraz .

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A dancer's killing — over voguing — highlights the dangers Black LGBTQ Americans face

"As this conflict may be identified as racially motivated, but not yet been charged as a hate crime, it can be considered slander and defamation of character for a public official to make a statement on the conflict without anyone being charged," Ferraz tells NPR. "Public officials can be sued and this can negatively impact their brand reputation with donors and constituents."

NPR reached out to the Montgomery Police Department for further comment, but did not receive a response.

One historian says the question of race is clear

Formal hate crime charges haven't been made, but observers like Derryn Moten , a professor of American history at Alabama State University, are blunt when describing Saturday's attack: "I completely reject the idea that race had no part or played no part in that incident."

To those who disagree, he says, "That's not what my eyes saw, that's not how my brain understood what I was looking at."

Moten, who also serves as chair of the university's Department of History and Political Science, says the fight took place in the area where enslaved people were brought in by boat on the Alabama River — and mere blocks from warehouses where they were held before being sold at auction.

Media outlets and pundits have been discussing these ties between Montgomery's racial history and the brawl. But Moten says what happened in Montgomery isn't exclusive to the South; it's a national problem.

The Titans' Terrell Williams temporarily will be the NFL's 4th Black head coach

The Titans' Terrell Williams temporarily will be the NFL's 4th Black head coach

"The incident that happened in Montgomery is not unique to Montgomery," he says. "I don't want, or would not want, anybody to think, 'Oh, these are the types of things that just happen in the South.' No. Sadly, they can happen anywhere in the United States."

He says that race is a factor in many of the issues that currently divide the country, including critical race theory, what some politicians and conservative activists refer to as "cancel culture" and "wokeness," police use of deadly force, and how American history is taught.

When Republicans Attack 'Cancel Culture,' What Does It Mean?

When Republicans Attack 'Cancel Culture,' What Does It Mean?

"The time period that we're experiencing socially and politically in our country is really interesting in that there seems to be an effort among some, for lack of a better word, to sanitize American history, particularly American history as it relates to enslavement, as it relates to immigration, as it relates to the forced migration of Native people," Moten says. "And all of this done in an effort to paint the United States as exceptional. And I think any honest person who reads American history would find it impossible to accept that notion."

Despite the painful racial fault lines of the U.S. today, Moten says he remains optimistic that things will get better with time, and that "good ultimately will triumph."

"I'm a student of history, so I have a lot of evidence to back that up," he says, citing the reunification of Germany, the end of apartheid in South Africa and, closer to home, the success of the Montgomery bus boycott .

"I think one of the difficult things for a lot of people to accept is that we have to work constantly at making sure that equal protection means equal protection for all. That equal rights means equal rights for all. And that we can't rest on our laurels."

Correction Aug. 12, 2023

An earlier photo caption incorrectly referred to a dock worker instead of a boat co-captain.

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Alabama riverboat captain reveals past ‘trouble’ with pontoon boat owners after brawl

The captain said they were previously going to press charges against the pontoon boat owners for a separate incident years ago, article bookmarked.

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The captain of the Harriott II riverboat revealed that he has had “trouble” in the past with the group who were arrested and charged with assault for their actions in the Montgomery waterfront brawl.

A fight broke out over the weekend along the dock after a deckhand asked the owners of a pontoon boat to move it a few feet, so that the Harriott II—which was carrying 227 passengers—could safely dock. The pontoon boat was partially blocking the riverboat’s designated space, the Montgomery Police chief previously said.

The exchange, which was captured on video, quickly got out of hand when one of the men on the pontoon boat allegedly started getting physical with the deckhand. Three men and one woman have so far been arrested in connection with the incident: Richard Roberts, 48, Allen Todd, 23, Zachary Shipman, 25, and Mary Todd, 21.

Capt Jim Kittrell told Alabama’s 93.1 radio station that this wasn’t the first time he had encountered the group.

“This is the same group that comes every year. They’re from Selma. And, we’ve had trouble with them in the past, but just like jokey things,” he stated.

He went into further detail about the group, citing one example from a few years ago while talking on CNN on Thursday. When the group came to Montgomery, the captain recalled, after a cruise, the riverboat crew tried to retrive “our golf cart that we used to get people up the hills that are handicapped or elderly.” But it was nowhere to be found.

Alabama riverfront brawl suspects finally turn themselves in

Mr Kittrell said he received a call from the Embassy Suites Hotel, saying the golf cart is in the hotel lobby. After being shown video footage of the cart entering the lobby, he said they “find out who it is,” and he called his boss, who “wanted me to press charges” because the property belonged to the city.

Harriott II boat Capt Jim Kittrell speaks to CNN about the riverfront brawl in Montgomery, Alabama

However, police talked him out of it. Mr Kittrell recounted the police telling him at the time that it was “juust a little prank. Just let it slide.” So they did.

But this time, the police didn’t let it slide. Mr Roberts had already been in custody with the Selma Police Department, while Mr Todd and Mr Shipman turned themselves in on Wednesday evening. Mary Todd handed herself in on Thursday and has been charged with assault in the third degree.

However, they are still trying to get in touch with Reggie Gray, whom the police chief has described as “wielding that folding chair” in videos, with footage showing him allegedly hitting multiple people over the head.

The police chief announced they were looking for him on Tuesday; on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Montgomery Police told The Independent that investigators will “certainly” find Mr Gray.

On Wednesday, Mr Kittrell said he believed the attack was driven by race .

“The white guys that attacked my deckhand—and he was a senior deckhand first mate—I can’t think of any other reason they attacked him other than it being racially motivated,” he said. However, the captain said, after the initial attack on the deckhand, the rest of the brawl did not fall along racial lines.

On CNN on Thursday, Mr Kittrell expanded on that claim, saying, “I saw it like everybody else saw it. It looks like White people attacking a Black man. But, he added, “I don’t know the hearts of those men...Now, I do know the hearts of my crew. And my crew was frustrated because they couldn’t get to the dock” and protect the deckhand, Damien Pickett.

The captain said he took Mr Pickett to the hospital after the attack, and although “he’s still having some headaches and stuff,” he said the deckhand is “doing well.”

Police said they did not find enough evidence to support hate crime charges.

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WATCH: Massive Riverfront Brawl in Alabama Leads to Multiple Arrests

The fight in Montgomery, which reportedly broke out over dock space, ballooned to include men, women, and a guy wielding a folding chair.

AJ McDougall

AJ McDougall

Breaking News Reporter

Riverfront Park dock

Michael Barera/WikiCommons

A Saturday night melee along a river in Montgomery, Alabama that exploded after a group of white boaters reportedly challenged a Black riverboat worker has led to several arrests, according to authorities.

The Montgomery Police Department said that “several” people had been detained after the brawl broke out at Riverfront Park around 7 p.m. Police confirmed to WSFA on Sunday afternoon that there were four active warrants in the case, with more possibly to come as the department’s investigation continues.

Witnesses told the station and several other local outlets that the fight was sparked by a pontoon boat blocking a riverboat’s dock space. “That area is the regular spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

In footage that circulated on social media in the aftermath of the tumult, a Black man can be seen standing on the dock, apparently attempting to unmoor the pontoon.

“Those guys who parked there were told not to leave it there and they left it there,” the woman filming, a guest on the riverboat cruise, can be heard saying. She identifies the man as a member of the cruise’s crew.

“So he’s just pushing it off,” the woman narrates. “That’s funny. Took matters into his own hands. I love it.” In the background of the video, other guests and crew members can be heard shouting in encouragement.

Several white men then approach the crew member, and an inaudible verbal confrontation begins, lasting several minutes.

As the men continue to argue, people on the boat can be heard yelling chants including, “Knock his ass out, Damien!” and “Get the fuck out the way!” The people aboard the riverboat then begin chanting the lyrics to “Move Bitch.”

Eventually, one of the men in the pontoon group shoves the crew member back. The crew member throws his hat away and the pair begin exchanging blows.

In another video, onlookers can be heard screaming, with one watching from the river yelling, “Y’all help that brother!” Several other people then rush in to join the fight, including a Black man who jumps into the water from a boat and swims to the dock.

The man in the water was identified by a family publicist on Sunday night only as a 16-year-old named Aaren. Calling him a “cherished young hero,” the publicist said in a statement posted to Facebook that Aaren “selflessly came to the rescue of a fellow colleague, showing courage beyond his years.”

According to a third video of the incident, the fight appears to momentarily deescalate soon after Aaren reaches the dock, only for it to scale up again, becoming a full-on brawl as the riverboat docks and roughly a dozen other employees go ashore.

Within moments, men and women, both Black and white, can be seen kicking, punching, eye-gouging, and wrestling each other. A person is at one point thrown into the water, while elsewhere a man finds a folding chair and starts bashing people over the head with it. Security officers can be seen attempting to break various sections of the fight up.

Law enforcement officers who arrived on the scene soon after handcuffed several people, including the man with the folding chair. The detained suspects’ names have not been released, and charges against those involved in the fight were pending on Sunday, according to the Montgomery Police Department.

In a Sunday afternoon statement, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said, “ 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. This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.”

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  2. Who is 'Black Aquaman'? Alabama boat fight swimmer becomes viral

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  3. Alabama boat fight: Wild new footage emerges from brawl between Harriot

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  4. Alabama boat fight: Wild new footage emerges from brawl between Harriot

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  5. Shocking Full Video Emerges of Montgomery, Alabama Riverboat Fight

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  6. What is the Harriott II, riverboat involved in Montgomery riverfront

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VIDEO

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  2. AV-8B Harrier II: Craziest Jumping Fighter Jets

COMMENTS

  1. Full Video: Viewer records as Montgomery riverfront brawl begins

    Full Video: Viewer records as Montgomery riverfront brawl begins. A passenger on the Harriott II Riverboat was recording when a confrontation turned into a fight involving multiple people.

  2. Fourth person charged in connection with brawl at Montgomery riverfront

    It all began around 7 p.m. Saturday when the Harriott II riverboat - carrying 227 passengers - returned to the waterfront and tried to dock in its designated, reserved spot but found the ...

  3. Montgomery Riverfront brawl

    Background and incident. On August 5, 2023, around 7:00 p.m., the riverboat Harriott II, carrying 227 passengers, returned to the Riverfront Park dock on the Alabama River in Montgomery, Alabama. [2] [3] In an interview with CNN, a white man identified as the captain of the Harriott II, stated the vessel had just completed the "5 to 7" cruise.

  4. Montgomery Riverfront brawl: 4 suspects being charged with ...

    4 people are being charged with assault for the waterfront brawl in Montgomery. A screenshot from one of the videos of the brawl in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday. The video shows a fight that ...

  5. Montgomery riverboat fight: Several detained after brawl in Alabama

    A separate video posted by Lauryn Lauren shows scenes after that, as the Harriott II was preparing to dock. A group of people approached the pontoon boat, and more fighting broke out. At least one ...

  6. Men charged in Montgomery riverboat brawl caused 'trouble' before

    Kittrell has captained the Harriott II for about 13 years, steering the riverboat since it was originally known as Savannah River Queen of Savannah, Ga., according to the Selma Times-Journal. He ...

  7. What Caused the Montgomery Riverfront Brawl?

    A large brawl broke out Saturday, Aug. 5, shortly before 7 p.m. at the Alabama capital after Pickett attempted to clear a dock along the river so that the Harriott II Riverboat could dock ...

  8. Witnesses recount brawl at Montgomery riverfront

    Bystanders said the incident began when a worker tried to clear the dock along the Alabama River so the Harriott II Riverboat could dock. A group of rowdy boaters refused to move their pontoon and ...

  9. Three white men facing charges in Alabama riverboat brawl are

    Chief Albert said that the Harriott II cruise ship, which takes passengers for 2-hour rides along the Alabama River, had 227 passengers on board when it tried to dock in its designated space, when ...

  10. Riverfront brawl brings unwelcome attention to historic civil rights

    The Harriott II riverboat sits docked in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. A riverfront brawl occurred on Aug. 5 when a crew member was punched for trying to move a pontoon boat that was blocking the riverboat from docking. ... The fight was largely split along racial lines and began when a moored pontoon boat blocked the Harriott II ...

  11. Alabama Riverboat Brawl Leaves Three In Custody: Here's What ...

    All three men are said to be owners of the small private boat that was in the way of the Harriott II Riverboat and appeared to get into a physical fight with the co-captain of the Harriott II ...

  12. What is the Harriott II, riverboat involved in Montgomery riverfront

    The Harriott II riverboat sits docked in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. A riverfront brawl occurred on Aug. 5 when a crew member was punched for trying to move a pontoon boat that was ...

  13. Suspects detained after Saturday night brawl on Riverfront Park dock

    That area is the regular spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat. On Sunday, MPD said there were four active warrants issued from the fight, with a possibility of more after review of ...

  14. 5 Montgomery riverfront brawl suspects enter not guilty pleas

    A passenger on the Harriott II Riverboat was recording when a confrontation turned into a fight involving multiple people. Two of the suspects, Mary Todd and Richard Roberts, stood before a judge ...

  15. Montgomery riverboat captain describes dispute with private boat ...

    Jim Kittrell, captain of the Harriott II Riverboat in Montgomery, AL, speaks out for the first time about what took place leading up to the massive brawl at the dockside. CNN values your feedback 1.

  16. 3 facing charges in Alabama riverfront brawl that drew nationwide attention

    The fight was largely split along racial lines and began when a moored pontoon boat blocked the Harriott II riverboat from docking in its designated space along the city's riverfront, Albert said.

  17. Montgomery riverboat co-captain says he was hanging on 'for dear life

    Damein Pickett, a crew member of the Harriott II in Montgomery, described the brawl in a handwritten statement to authorities included in court documents, saying he was attacked after moving a ...

  18. The riverfront brawl in Alabama reignites national debate over race

    Another Harriott II crew member, Crystal Warren, witnessed the incident from aboard the riverboat. Her son is the 16-year-old deckhand, who was allegedly assaulted by people associated with the ...

  19. Alabama riverboat captain reveals past 'trouble' with pontoon boat

    A fight broke out over the weekend along the dock after a deckhand asked the owners of a pontoon boat to move it a few feet, so that the Harriott II—which was carrying 227 passengers—could ...

  20. WATCH: Massive Riverfront Brawl in Alabama Leads to Multiple Arrests

    "That area is the regular spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat," the Montgomery Advertiser reported. ... the fight appears to momentarily deescalate soon after Aaren reaches the dock ...

  21. Harriott II Riverboat

    Harriott II Riverboat. Re-live history while enjoying a relaxing cruise on one of Montgomery's greatest downtown attractions, the Harriott II. Docked beside the uniquely built Riverwalk Amphitheater, this elegant 19th Century riverboat is center stage of Montgomery's entertainment district. The Harriott II offers dinner, dancing, and live ...

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    Harriott II Riverboat, Montgomery, Alabama. 17,007 likes · 198 talking about this · 30,030 were here. Visit our website http://funinmontgomery.com for more info!