HomeUSThree men charged with assault after mass brawl on Alabama riverfront |...

Three men charged with assault after mass brawl on Alabama riverfront | US News

Three men have been charged with assault in the US after a black dock worker was attacked in a riverfront brawl.

Footage of the fight on Saturday along the Montgomery Riverfront in Alabama was widely shared online.

Richard Roberts, 48, Allen Todd, 23, and Zachery Shipman, 25, have been charged with assault after the co-captain of the Harriott II riverboat – a popular tourist attraction that departs on two-hour cruises around the area – was attacked.

Damien Pickett was met with confrontation after being brought to a pier on a separate boat in an attempt to speak to the owners of a private vessel, who had refused to move from the riverboat docking space.

A 16-year-old employee of the boat that brought Mr Pickett to the pier was also apparently struck during the brawl.

Later footage showed around a dozen people fighting – with at least one person ending up in the water.

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert announced the charges in a press conference on Tuesday and confirmed witness accounts of the fighting.

Mr Albert said one individual is already in police custody and the other two are expected to turn themselves in later today.

Alabama brawl as people defend Black riverboat worker against white assailants
Footage shows a group of white people attacking a black riverboat worker

“There was no need for this event to take the path it did,” Mr Albert said. “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.”

He said he did not believe the incident was racially motivated.

Police also wish to speak to 42-year-old Reggie Gray, who was filmed wielding a folding chair during the brawl.

A total of 13 people were detained after the fight, but all have now been released pending further investigation.

Alabama brawl as people defend Black riverboat worker against white assailants
Several people are seen being led away in handcuffs by the end of the melee

‘Everything just spiralled’

The captain of the Harriott II, which had more than 200 passengers on board, attempted to make contact with the owners of the private boat before Mr Pickett went ashore.

He was met with “obscene gestures, taunting and curse words” from the individuals, Mr Albert said.

One witness, Leslie Mawhorter, 52, who was on the Harriot II, said in an interview: “They just didn’t think the rules applied to them. It was so avoidable. This never had to have happened.

“Everything just spiralled 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.”

After the initial attack, several people appeared to rush to the worker’s defence – one of them even swimming from the riverboat over to the dock to take part in the brawl.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed called for community cohesion between the two groups, which were largely split among racial lines.

“While there is a lot of activity and interest in this, we know that we’ll come through this together as a community collectively as we have other situations,” Mr Reed told US media.

He praised police in an earlier statement for their work to “swiftly detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job”.

“This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred,” he added.

Read more from Sky News:
Mass brawl breaks out at Chicago airport
Black Hawk helicopter crashes in Alabama

Christa Owen, 47, who was on the riverboat with her husband and their daughter when the fight began, said passengers felt “helpless”.

“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,” she said.

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