Three men charged with assault after violent brawl at Montgomery riverfront

A violent brawl that erupted at the Montgomery riverfront on Saturday has resulted in three men being charged with assault, according to the Montgomery Police Department. The fight, which was captured on video and went viral on social media, involved a group of white boaters and a black riverboat worker, as well as several bystanders who came to his aid.

Montgomery riverfront

What sparked the brawl?

The brawl allegedly started when Damian Pickett, the co-captain of a riverboat called the Harriott II, asked the owners of a private boat to move their vessel from the docking space reserved for the riverboat. The private boat had docked at the riverfront after a concert at the nearby amphitheater. Pickett, who is black, was met with “curse words”, “obscene gestures” and “taunting” from the white boaters, according to Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert.

When Pickett approached the private boat again, he was pushed to the ground and punched by multiple people. One of the passengers on the Harriott II, who is also black, saw the attack and jumped into the river to swim to Pickett’s defense. He was followed by several other passengers and bystanders, who joined the melee. The fight lasted for about 10 minutes, until the police arrived and dispersed the crowd.

Who are the suspects?

The police have issued arrest warrants for three men who are accused of assaulting Pickett and others during the brawl. They are:

  • Richard Roberts, 48, who faces two charges of assault
  • Allen Todd, 23, who faces one charge of assault
  • Zachary Shipman, 25, who faces one charge of assault

Albert said that none of the suspects are residents of Montgomery. He also said that one of them is in custody and the other two are expected to surrender soon. He added that more charges are possible as the investigation continues.

Was it a hate crime?

Albert said that the police looked into whether there was enough evidence to charge the suspects with a hate crime or inciting a riot, but they did not find any. He said that the brawl was not racially motivated, but rather a result of “poor judgment” and “bad decisions” by both parties.

However, some observers have questioned this conclusion, noting that the fight appeared to be divided along racial lines. The viral videos showed a group of white men attacking a black man, while a group of black people rushed to his rescue. Some social media users praised the black bystanders for their solidarity and courage, while others condemned the white boaters for their aggression and racism.

Montgomery has a long history of racial tensions and civil rights struggles. It was the site of several pivotal events in the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, led by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., and the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights. Today, it is home to several museums and memorials that commemorate this legacy.

How did the city officials react?

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed issued a statement on Monday condemning the violence and calling for calm. He said that he was “disappointed” by the incident and that it did not reflect the values of the city. He also said that he was “proud” of the police for their swift response and professionalism.

Reed urged the residents and visitors of Montgomery to respect each other and avoid any further conflicts. He said that he hoped that the incident would not overshadow the positive aspects of the city, such as its cultural diversity and economic development.

He also thanked the Harriott II crew for their service and apologized for any inconvenience caused by the brawl. He said that he hoped that they would continue to operate safely and successfully.

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