Montgomery riverboat worker speaks out for first time since viral brawl

Dameion Pickett said someone had a private pontoon boat illegally positioned in the Harriott II's space as it ended a dinner tour, preventing the riverboat from safely docking.

The riverboat worker at the center of the viral brawl at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama, nearly two months ago is speaking publicly about details of that day for the first time.

Dameion Pickett, a Black co-captain and the lead deckhand of Harriott II, told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” that he went to work on Aug. 5 expecting just another nice, peaceful cruise. He said he was shocked at the violent attack he endured while “just doing my job,” according to ABC News.

Pickett recalled the Harriott II tried to dock after a dinner tour but a private pontoon boat had illegally parked in its space, making docking hazardous. Pickett told ABC that he could have docked but would have hit some vessels and been held responsible.

Montgomery riverboat brawl, Alabama
Dameion Pickett (left), a Harriott II riverboat worker, has spoken out for the first time after he was attacked last month for “just doing my job” at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama. (Credit: Screenshot WVTM 13 News via YouTube)

Pickett and witnesses on the Harriott II made several unsuccessful attempts to ask the pontoon boat’s owner to relocate it, ABC reported. At that point, Pickett said, he left the riverboat “on the captain’s orders” and went to move the pontoon boat by himself.

“I was, like, ‘I’m just doing my job,'” he recalled. “After we dock, we don’t mind y’all staying there, but not at this time while we’re trying to dock.'”

The video shows a man confronted and punched Pickett shortly after he moved the boat. From there, others joined in, all of whom were white, the video shows. The situation escalated, with Pickett saying he had to protect himself.

“This man just put his hand on me,” Pickett said. “I was, like … it’s my job, but I’m still defending myself at the same time. So when he touched me, I was, like, ‘It’s on.'”

The incident led to a massive brawl, prompting several Black eyewitnesses to come to Pickett’s defense.

Aaren Hamilton-Rudolph, 16, who was in his second week on the job, was one of the first people to swim to Pickett’s defense. He said everyone was recording the incident, but no one was helping — and he “couldn’t just watch and sit around and just let him get beat on,” ABC News reported.

Roshein “RahRah” Carlton also rushed to Pickett’s side, saying it’s “our duty, as our coworker, as a team, to go and aid and assist him.”

Pickett said the attackers spewed “some nasty words” in his direction, while Carlton claimed he heard “a lot of racial slurs” during the incident.

However, Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert said police left “no stone unturned” during their investigation but could not “present any insight in a riot or racially biased charges at this time.”

Four white individuals were charged with misdemeanors and are out on bond. They’re set to appear in court this week for a hearing.

Richard Roberts has been charged with two counts of assault in the third degree, court records show. Allen Todd, Zachary Shipman and Mary Todd were all charged with third-degree assault. They all pleaded not guilty.

Reggie Ray, a Black man seen attacking someone with a beach chair in the video, was also arrested. He pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct.

Pickett said he just wanted to ensure the Harriott II, which was carrying more than 200 passengers at the time, docked safely that day. While he’s a little sore from the incident, which left him with minor bumps and bruises, he doesn’t regret upholding his duties.

In addition to Pickett, Albert identified an unnamed 16-year-old white male struck during the melee as a victim in the case.

“I had a responsibility,” Pickett said, ABC reported. “I was still trying to get that boat in while the fight was still going on. I’m still telling the captain, ‘We gotta get these folks here safely to this dock.'”

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