Chair-wielding man, Reggie Ray, posts bail as GoFundMe surpasses quarter million

Ray's release came as a GoFundMe started by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt got closer to its $275,000 goal, though it's unknown if the money was utilized for his bail.

The Alabama man authorities claim used a chair to defend himself and others during a now-viral altercation on a Montgomery riverfront has posted bail.

According to Insider, Reggie Ray, 42, reportedly turned himself in Friday on disorderly conduct charges and was released from the Montgomery Municipal Jail the following morning.

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, representing Ray and at least one other individual involved in the brawl, posted on Instagram about his client’s release from jail early Saturday.

Reggie Ray (right) seen wielding a chair during the viral riverfront brawl in Montgomery, Alabama, posted bail and was released from the Montgomery Municipal Jail on Saturday. (Photo: Screenshot/ Smiley)

“Mr. Reggie Ray is out,” Merritt wrote, Insider reported. “He is in good spirits. He got a speeding ticket on the way home but he was relieved to discover the community showed up for him and others in such [a] strong way.”

Merritt said Ray had “involuntarily been roped into the disorderly conduct initiated by a violent white mob,” but would still participate in the investigation.

After videos surfaced showing the man using the chair to strike a few individuals, the weapon and its wielder quickly gained popularity online. People took pictures with the chair next to the dock after the fight, and some demanded it be incorporated permanently into Black history.

Police claim the Aug. 5 riverfront brawl started when white individuals refused to move their tiny boat from a pier intended for the riverboat Harriott II. One of the white boaters rushed and swung at the Black riverboat co-captain, 43-year-old Dameion Pickett, after he attempted to reason with the group.

As Pickett defended himself, other people attacked him, and as a result, onlookers stepped in with support, based on videos released online. It eventually escalated into a massive brawl with numerous participants.

Darryl J. Albert, chief of the Montgomery Police Department, announced that Richard Roberts, 48, is facing two third-degree assault charges. Zachery Shipman, 25; Allen Todd, 23; and Mary Todd, 21, are each charged with one count of third-degree assault.

According to MPD, the events do not “fit the criteria” for charges of inciting a riot or a hate crime based on the available evidence, so authorities do not expect to file those charges.

But Jim Kittrell, captain of the Harriott II, disagreed, stating he didn’t believe the people attacking his shipmate had “any other reason” but race.

“All he did was move their boat up three feet,” Kittrell said, according to Insider. “It makes no sense to have six people try to beat the snot out of you just because you moved their boat up a few feet. In my opinion, the attack on Dameion was racially motivated.”

Following Ray’s arrest, Twitter users made calls for police to “Free Reggie” and denied they had ever seen a man using a folding chair in the first place.

His release came as a GoFundMe effort started by Merritt raised more than $220,000 as of Saturday evening, though it is unknown if the money was utilized for his bail. As of Monday morning, the crowdsourcing campaign had garnered over $265,000 of the $275,000 goal.

The GoFundMe page asserts that the funds will help Merritt’s clients and others responding to the commotion pay for certain damages, medical bills, lost wages/earnings, professional services, travel and lodges.

Contributors expressed their admiration for Ray in the comments, praising him as a hero and emphasizing how repulsive the perpetrators’ actions were.

“He made me feel, for the first time in my life, like maybe I’m NOT at the mercy of a world who was trained to be anti-me,” wrote Robin Wright on GoFundMe. “He reminded me that I’m not alone. That people will ride for me when they need to. Outside of relatives, this is new. And I like it. A sense of security? Wow!”

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