A witness to a melee at the Montgomery Riverfront Park that went viral over the weekend says she heard one of the men who attacked a Black worker of a riverboat call him a racial slur as authorities maintain the assault was not racially motivated.
As of Wednesday night, police have reported that Allen Todd, 23, and Zachary Shipman, 25, are currently in custody. In relation to the altercation, a third individual, identified as Richard Roberts, 48, has been charged with two counts of third-degree assault and has also been taken into custody, according to a statement from the Montgomery police chief.
Cellphone footage from the Montgomery Riverfront Park showed a group of white people attacking Damian Pickett after he asked them to move their pontoon boat so the bigger vessel, Harriott II, could move.
The mother of a 16-year-old boy who was also attacked by the mob told CNN that she heard white men hurling a racial slur at Pickett while they assaulted him.
“You could hear men yelling ‘f–k that n–er,” she said.
Later, other Black bystanders jumped in to help Pickett, turning on the white mob and leading to a chaotic scene on the dock.
In her sworn affidavit, the witness further claimed that Roberts struck her son in the chest while he was trying to intervene and separate the mob from Pickett. The witness also stated that another person within the group mentioned retrieving a firearm but was swiftly restrained by a staff member from the riverboat.
The vessel’s captain, Capt. Jim Kittrell told the Daily Beast that he also believed the group attacked Pickett because of his race. However, police say that they believe the incident was not racially motivated.
Police Chief Darryl Albert told CNN that Pickett himself said he did not believe it was because of race.
“We believe what he is saying, and what he is saying is that he does not believe it was racially motivated whatsoever,” Albert said.
Kittrell said he was familiar with the white boaters and had “had trouble with them in the past.”
Albert said he would reevaluate the case for hate crime charges if the evidence surfaces.
“If more evidence comes forward. If there’s more proof that this leaned toward more of a hate crime, we will amend those charges and charge appropriately then,” the police chief said.