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Warrants issued in Alabama dock brawl after group of white men attack Black riverboat worker

Police in Alabama have issued several arrest warrants in connection with a riverfront brawl in Alabama’s capital that drew nationwide attention after video showed a group of white people pummelling a Black riverboat co-captain, an exchange that sparked a massive fight.

The brawl happened Saturday evening on the dock along Montgomery’s riverfront after the co-captain of the city-operated Harriott II, whom police identified Tuesday as Damian Pickett, tried to get a pontoon boat moved that was blocking the riverboat from docking.

Video taken by a riverboat passenger, published by WSFA and shared widely on social media, showed the moment a white man shoved and punched Pickett. The conflict escalated when several white people joined in on attacking him. 

A separate video shows that several Black passengers then confronted the pontoon boat group after the riverboat docked, sparking another brawl that was largely split along racial lines.

WATCH | Disturbing video shows assault on riverboat captain, chaotic brawl: 

Police investigating after riverfront brawl in Alabama

WARNING | This video contains disturbing images of violence: Steven Reed, the mayor of Montgomery, Ala., said police are investigating after a chaotic brawl over the weekend. Witnesses told U.S. media outlets the brawl began after boaters attacked a dock worker who was trying to get them to move a boat.

Montgomery police Chief Darryl Albert confirmed Tuesday afternoon that warrants had been issued for three white men on various assault-related charges, adding that all of the men were on the pontoon boat.

He said one of the men is also accused of assaulting a 16-year-old white male who piloted a different vessel that carried Pickett from the Harriott II to the dock before the altercation took place.

Albert said one man had already turned himself in and was in custody, at the time of the press conference, and the other two men were expected to surrender later in the afternoon.

Police have also requested to speak with one Black man who was seen in a video “wielding a folding chair” during the altercation.

Albert said that at this time, authorities are unable to lay any charges related to a hate or racially biased crime or for the incitement of a riot.

But he said the pending assault charges were “appropriate charges for what we have seen and the behaviour we have seen on social media.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed thanked law enforcement and first responders who assisted in the incident, which he described as “something brought on by reckless individuals.”

The fight took place along Montgomery’s downtown riverfront, which the city has worked to develop into a tourist and recreation area with restaurants, bars and hotels.

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