By AFRO Staff
Black people across America are still reveling in the smackdown that took place on a Montgomery, Ala. dock on Aug. 5.
What began as a co-captain trying to make room on the dock for a commercial boat quickly escalated into a physical assault. Authorities said warrants had been issued– with more possibly on the way. On Aug.10, 21-year old Mary Todd reported to Montgomery police to face her charge of misdemeanor third degree assault.
Todd turned herself in after three other arrest warrants were issued earlier in the week for instigators of the altercation.
Richard Roberts, 48, was taken into custody on two warrants for assault in the third degree, while 23-year-old Allen Todd, was issued a warrant and arrested for assault in the third degree. Zachary Simpson, 25, was arrested on a warrant for third-degree assault.
“This investigation is ongoing and more charges are likely,” said Montgomery Police Chief Darryl J. Albert, at a press conference live streamed from the department’s official social media page on Facebook/Meta. “We encourage the public to send us additional videos and evidence related to this case.”
According to Albert and real-time live streams posted to social media by those present for the debacle, the Harriott II Riverboat was attempting to dock at Riverfront Park and let passengers off when a private boat parked, blocking the ship’s designated parking space and stranding the patrons on the water.
“The captain of the Harriot remained away from the dock for nearly 40-45 minutes as he attempted to contact the operators of the private boat via a PA system. They were only responded to with obscene gestures, curse words and taunting,” said Albert.
Damien Pickett, the Black co-captain of the ship, “was then picked up by a separate vessel and brought to the pier in an attempt to have a conversation with the private owner,” according to Albert.
According to conversations overheard in the live streams and recordings, Pickett made space on the dock by physically pulling the smaller, private boat out of the Harriot II’s designated parking space after the owners parked and walked away. When the White boat owner and his party returned, words were exchanged with Pickett.
What ensued next is all caught on video.
In a matter of minutes the verbal disagreement turns into a physical assault of the co-captain in broad daylight. Pickett can be seen doing his best to defend himself, but the attack only escalates when friends and family of the boat owner join the fray and attack him as a group.
Just when it seems that Pickett is outnumbered and alone, help arrives– from every direction, literally.
First, an unidentified Black man runs down to the dock. Though he is met with punches, he swings none. The first good samaritan to help Pickett succeeds in getting the group of White attackers off of him, but more arrive.
Black America is in awe of 16-year-old Aaren Rudolph, dubbed “Aquamayne,” who jumped off of the Harriot II and swam to the fight. After pulling himself out of the water and kicking off his shoes, Rudolph can be seen taking on Pickett’s attackers.
After a nearly hour-long delay, witnesses to the unprovoked attack finally make it to the dock.
Pickett is soon surrounded by coworkers and ship patrons who swing fists and even chairs in his defense. Multiple attackers found themselves wading in the water and police are still asking the man seen on camera knocking people over the head with a foldable chair to come in for questioning.
“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,” said Reed. “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 violence will be held accountable by our criminal justice system.”
Those involved in the altercation have spoken out. Tammie Howard, one of Pickett’s coworkers seen baptizing an attacker, spoke proudly on a social media livestream about her termination from the Harriot II crew after the fight.
“They didn’t have
] business putting their hands on Damien,” said Howard, adding that the attackers “put their hands on the wrong person’s child.”
“That’s somebody that we know,” said Howard. “His mama knows my mama. I know her children!”
Howard spoke of the unified front that arrived to help Pickett.
“All of us on that riverboat stuck together,” she said.
The parents of Aaren “Aquamayne” have also come forward with a statement.
“We sincerely thank each of you for blessing our son, acknowledging his efforts in
] incident and for your generous donations via Cash App and PayPal,” said Makina LaShea, in the statement. The family said they want to clarify that their aim is not to “capitalize on nor exploit” the teen. “Your support is deeply appreciated and will make a significant impact on his future.”