Montgomery Police Chief Darryl J. Albert announced assault charges were filed against Richard Roberts, 48; Allen Todd, 23; and Zachery Shipman, 25; at a Tuesday news conference. Albert said one of the men is in custody and the two others are expected to turn themselves over to police Tuesday afternoon.
“There was no need for this event to take the path it did,” Albert told reporters. He said investigators do not believe the incident was racially motivated. “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.”
In a quintessential mess around and find out moment, a group of white boaters on the riverfront in Montgomery, Alabama, attacked a Black man simply for doing his job.
Within moments, several African American men came to the guard’s rescue, pulverizing the aggressors.
Among those helping the guard was an individual dubbed “Black Aqua man” because he swam across the river to intercede.
The guard had been diligently working and requested the boaters move their vessel to allow a ship to dock.
However, the white boaters violently refused, attacking the man who tossed his hat in the air, apparently as a way of acknowledging that “it’s on.”
Eyewitness Lauren Spivey told CNN that for nearly 45 minutes the vessel obstructed the docking space at Harriott II Riverboat at Riverfront Park.
“The man, the white individual, hurried down there, and that’s when things escalated,” Spivey said, adding that the guard simply informed the man that he needed to relocate to create space for the larger riverboat.
“[The white boaters] just didn’t think the rules applied to them. It was so avoidable. This never had to have happened,” Leslie Mawhorter, an eyewitness to the incident, told Yahoo! News.
“Everything just spiraled from there,” Mawhorter said. “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.”
The confrontation escalated, with punches thrown and chairs wielded as weapons.
At least one individual was tossed into the water amidst the chaotic clash.
Police detained several individuals, and charges are pending.
At press time, the victim and others involved hadn’t been named.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed commended law enforcement for their rapid response to detain those responsible for assaulting the victim.
“Those who choose violence will be held accountable by our criminal justice system,” he said. “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.”
Major Saba Coleman said an ongoing investigation has led to the issuance of four active warrants.
However, the number is flexible, as authorities meticulously review additional footage, indicating the likelihood of more warrants.
“It was inexcusable behavior,” Christa Owen, who was on the Harriot, told NBC News, adding that she believes alcohol was a factor.
“I can’t imagine anyone just disregarding moving their boat 2 feet so that a three-story dinner cruise boat could park back in that spot.”