On the fifth of August, a Saturday, the riverboat named Harriet II made an effort to come to a halt at its designated location in Montgomery, Alabama. The intention was to allow its 227 passengers to disembark. However, the situation took an unexpected turn as a privately-owned pontoon boat was found occupying the allocated space. Consequently, the Harriet II was unable to access its designated docking area.
Captain Jim Kittrell, responsible for the riverboat, utilized the public address system to politely request the occupants of the pontoon boat to relocate. Despite multiple attempts, no response was received from the pontoon’s occupants. In a subsequent effort, Captain Kittrell proposed the possibility of the pontoon boat moving just a few feet to create space for the Harriet II to dock adjacent to it.
Regrettably, the response from the pontoon’s occupants was far from courteous, as they expressed their disapproval through disrespectful gestures.
In an attempt to address the situation, Damien Pickett, the co-captain of the Harriett II, along with a 16-year-old staff member, used a smaller vessel to approach the pontoon boat. The goal was to find a resolution to the ongoing issue. However, the encounter quickly escalated into a confrontation between Pickett and several males who were present on the pontoon boat.
The situation took a violent turn when one of the men forcefully pushed Pickett. Reacting to this, Pickett threw his hat into the air, which led to several other individuals on the pontoon boat attacking him. Unfortunately, the 16-year-old employee also became a target of assault as he tried to come to Pickett’s aid.
A number of Harriett II staff members quickly intervened to support the co-captain, with one individual even leaping into the water and swimming to the dock in order to offer assistance. The initial confrontation escalated into a sizable brawl, involving numerous individuals from both the riverboat and the pontoon vessel.
Numerous onlookers captured video footage of the altercation, and these videos have spread widely across social media platforms.
The Montgomery Police Department (MPD) has authorized arrest warrants for three men, all of whom were occupants of the private pontoon boat. Presently, one of the individuals in question has surrendered to the authorities, while the remaining two are yet to be apprehended at the time of this composition. The MPD anticipates that additional warrants will be issued as the investigation into the incident progresses.
After seeking guidance from the FBI, the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) concluded that there was insufficient evidence to classify the incident as a hate crime. This determination was made despite statements from Kittrell, who informed a local radio station that he perceived the assault on Pickett as being driven by racial motives.
Kittrell also communicated to local media outlets that the Harriett II crew had previously crossed paths with the individuals from the pontoon boat, leading to issues on those occasions as well.