The Montgomery Police Department (MPD) is still working to determine precisely what happened. But witnesses claim the group brawl started when a Black male Riverfront employee attempted to get a group of white people, several men and a woman, to move their pontoon boat.
The pontoon was reportedly parked in a spot reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat, which was waiting to dock before the fight broke out. According to video footage, the Black employee spoke to several white men regarding the stationary boat–with several exchanges appearing tense, per the hand movements.
Suddenly, a shirtless white man runs up and punches the employee in the face.
A brawl took place at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama.
Reportedly, a group of white men attacked a black dock worker after he asked them to move their boat. In response, a group of black men intervened to defend the worker.
Several were detained, and charges are pending. pic.twitter.com/4YhGGdB6IU
— BoreCure (@CureBore) August 6, 2023
The employee reacts by tossing his cap in the air and preparing to swing back, but the same white man punches him again. The two men start tussling for several seconds before four additional white men run over and start beating the employee.
Initial efforts to de-escalate the fight go unnoticed. When the employee is freed and on his feet, several Black onlookers have arrived to assist. One man jumped off a nearby boat, swam to the dock, and joined another growing group of Black people.
Montgomery PD officers arrived at about 7 p.m. local time, per reports, and began detaining people. However, several onlookers, including dock workers, had joined the incident. After the Riverboat docked, several white people traveling with the pontoon boat crew received pushes, punches, and kicks. At least one person was pushed into the water.
One Black man–now viral for this move–even used a folding chair to smack a white man and white woman above the head. Several officers immediately wrestled him to the ground and arrested him.
It’s unclear if the white man who threw the first punch and the additional white men who jumped the lone Black employee were part of the group police detained.
According to WSFA, there were at least four active warrants as of Sunday (Aug. 6). However, there’s the lingering possibility that MPD will issue additional warrants. It’s unclear what kind of charges, if any, are on the table at this time.
An ongoing investigation includes footage review from the public and the area’s surveillance cameras. MPD is asking witnesses to submit any videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, videos from multiple angles and of differing lengths are floating around on social media. On X (formerly Twitter), the Black community, in particular, has been celebrating the alleged display of unity and defense of the dock worker.
Some are even calling it modern Black history. At the same time, others are taking the jokey jokes a step further. One man has even honored the chair used in the fight by putting it on a t-shirt.