“Brawl in Montgomery Rises Questions of Race and Hate Crime”

By | August 12, 2023



Police in Montgomery, Alabama, have stated that the recent riverfront brawl, which occurred along racial lines, does not meet the criteria for a hate crime. However, there is a divide among experts and social media users regarding the role of race in the incident. The incident has sparked renewed discussions about race in the United States. Montgomery’s Black mayor, Steven Reed, has pledged to hold those responsible for the fight accountable and will work with the U.S. Justice Department to determine if new evidence classifies it as a hate crime. The brawl began after a group of people parked their pontoon boat in a space reserved for a riverboat, leading to a confrontation. Charges have been filed against multiple individuals involved in the fight. The incident highlights the ongoing issue of race in the country, with some experts emphasizing its role in various societal divisions and challenges. Dustin Jones reported

Warning: The following narrative contains explicit language and a racial slur. According to the police in Montgomery, Alabama, the recent brawl that took place on the riverfront does not meet the criteria for a hate crime. However, after videos of the incident were released, opinions remain divided among experts, pundits, and social media users. Some argue that race was not a factor, while others believe the footage clearly shows racial divisions. Regardless, this incident has sparked renewed discussions about race across the United States.

Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert stated at a press conference that the charges brought against the individuals involved accurately reflect the available evidence. He acknowledged the concerns raised about race and assured that the department thoroughly investigated the matter. The investigation is still ongoing. Montgomery’s first Black mayor, Steven L. Reed, has vowed to hold those responsible accountable. He recognizes the incident from two perspectives, one as a public servant and the other as a Black man. Reed trusts the justice system but believes that the incident meets the moral definition of a hate crime, considering the city’s history.

The incident unfolded when a group of people docked their pontoon boat in a space reserved for Montgomery’s riverboat, the Harriott II. After numerous announcements asking the pontoon boat to be moved, the Black co-captain of the Harriott II, Dameion Pickett, and a white 16-year-old deckhand went ashore to relocate the boat. A confrontation occurred between Pickett and several men from the pontoon boat, escalating into a physical fight. Video evidence shows Richard Roberts striking Pickett, while Allen Todd and Zachery Shipman also joined the altercation. Crystal Warren, a Harriott II crew member, reported hearing a racial slur being used during the incident. The brawl reignited conversations about race and the historical context of Montgomery.

Officials may be hesitant to discuss the racial aspect due to possible legal implications and the divisive nature of such discussions in today’s culture. Public officials can face legal consequences, damaging their reputation with constituents and donors. However, historians like Derryn Moten strongly believe that race played a significant role in the incident. Moten highlights that the fight took place in an area associated with the history of slavery, and this issue is not exclusive to the South but a national problem. He argues that race influences various current issues, such as critical race theory, police use of force, and the teaching of American history.

Moten remains optimistic that progress will be made over time, drawing on historical examples such as the reunification of Germany, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the success of the Montgomery bus boycott. However, he emphasizes the need for continuous efforts to ensure equal rights and equal protection for all. Despite the challenging nature of these discussions, Moten believes that ultimately, good will prevail.


In conclusion, the recent riverfront brawl in Montgomery has sparked debates about race in the United States. While the incident has not been classified as a hate crime, opinions vary regarding the racial dynamics involved. The historical context of Montgomery and the broader issues of race in the country contribute to the significance of this event..