Three White Men Charged in Riverboat Brawl Had Caused Trouble Before

The three White men charged with assault on Tuesday following a brawl on an Alabama riverboat dock had caused trouble before with the Harriott II, according to the riverboat’s captain.

Captain Jim Kittrell 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, but they were less serious issues. Kittrell cited one issue when one of the riverboat’s golf carts was missing after returning from a cruise. After reviewing video the group had taken it and left it in the lobby of a Hampton Inn. He said the police talked them out of pressing charges for the incident.

Kittrell said he believed the attack on co-captain Damien Pickett over the weekend was “racially motivated.”

Police detained 13 people for questioning, then released them. After consulting with the FBI, authorities said they would not be able to charge the White men with a hate crime or with inciting a riot.

Richard Roberts, 48; Allen Todd, 23; and Zachery Shipman, 25, have four warrants pending for third-degree misdemeanor assault for attacking Pickett on the dock of Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama, according to Police Chief Darryl Albert.

Richard Roberts, 48

Roberts, who has an additional warrant pending for striking a white teen boy, turned himself in. Todd and Shipman, as of Wednesday morning, had not yet turned themselves in.

Reggie Gray, a 42-year-old Black man who was seen on video hitting people with a folding chair during the brawl, has also not turned himself in after police called on him to do so.

Captain Kittrell said when he 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 said he nicely asked them, “Please, help me out here, fellas. Move the boat up a little bit.”

When the Black co-captain Damien Pickett attempted to move the boat up a few feet, Kittrell saw his colleague get attacked by the group.

“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 said 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.”


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