Three white men are facing charges for violently attacking a Black riverboat captain in Montgomery, Alabama.
Even though the melee played out along racial lines, officials say the attackers won’t be charged with a hate crime.
Damien Pickett, a Black co-captain of the Harriott II Riverboat, was blocked from docking his 227-passenger vessel in its designated and reserved spot along the Riverside Park waterfront by a group of white men who were parked in the spot.
At first, when asked to move, the men responded with rude gestures, bad words, and teasing.
“The co-captain, as he approached the dock and attempted to peacefully move the boat over, the owners of the boat confronted him in a hostile way,” Police Chief Darryl J. Albert said on Aug. 8, according to the Washington Post.
Pickett and a 16-year-old white male were assaulted.
Investigators checked to see if there was proof to charge anyone with a hate crime or for inciting a riot, but the actions didn’t match the rules for those charges in the city with a history of racism.
Authorities from the local Montgomery Police Department and the FBI said there is not enough evidence to support the charge. In addition to the FBI, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office are being consulted regarding the charges.
According to the most recent Department of Justice statistics on hate crimes, offenses against people based on race, ethnicity, or ancestry make up the majority of the crimes.
On Tuesday, Albert announced he has issued warrants for three individuals: Richard Roberts, 48; Allen Todd, 23; and Zachery Shipman, 25. The warrants are distributed as follows: Roberts has two, while Todd and Shipman have one apiece, and the men will be charged with assault once arrested.
At least one of the charges is third-degree assault, which is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama and is punishable by up to a year in prison should one of the men be convicted.
Videos filmed by bystanders and shared online displayed the Black co-captain, Pickett, going back and forth with one of the pontoon boaters.
Suddenly, a second white man rushes toward Pickett and punches him in the face.
After that, the footage shows Pickett throwing his cap in the air before he and that man start to fight. However, in a matter of moments, a group of white men on the dock surround Pickett and start punching him while he’s on the ground, as shown in the online videos.
Many Black onlookers witnessed the attack on the victim and jumped in to help. One person seemed to have jumped off one of the other riverboats and swam to the dock to join in helping Pickett during the fight.
The chief stated one man has surrendered to the police. His department is in communication with the other two, preparing to turn themselves in soon.
Reggie Gray, a 42-year-old Black man, captured the free-for-all after the initial altercation. He has also been asked to contact officials regarding the incident.
CBS News says police officers are asking the Black man who was seen in video swinging a folding chair to contact them for a round of questioning.
Albert mentioned that they have been talking to people about the fight. They held 13 individuals on Saturday who were thought to be involved in the brawl, but later they let them go. The chief said they are still investigating and more charges might come.