Three Black crew members at the center of the viral riverfront brawl in Montgomery, Alabama, have recounted their experience in a new interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.
Dameion Pickett, the lead deckhand of The Harriott II riverboat, told “Good Morning America” that he was just doing his job and was in “shock” when he was attacked while trying to dock the city-owned boat on Aug. 5.
Before the attack, the riverboat, which had more than 200 passengers aboard, was held up by an illegally docked boat that was blocking the riverboat from its spot. Pickett asked the white boaters to move their vessel multiple times so that passengers could get off the boat. Instead of moving the boat, a white man attacked Pickett and a brawl broke out moments later as more white people joined the fight and Pickett’s colleagues rushed to defend him. The brawl quickly became an internet conversation piece after multiple videos of the confrontation surfaced on social media. Many people were quick to point out the racial tensions in the video or joke about the fight.
Pickett, who is seen in the viral video throwing his hat in the air, told “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts that he went to move the smaller boat himself since the white boaters, who he claims had been drinking, refused to move it.
“This man just put his hand on me. 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,’” Pickett said.
As the fight continued, Roshein “RahRah” Carlton, a steward on the ship, and 16-year-old employee Aaren Hamilton-Rudolph, who was seen swimming to the dock in a video, went to help Pickett.
“It’s our duty as― as our co-worker, as a team, to go and aid and assist him,” Carlton said in the interview, recalling that the white boaters were using racial slurs.
Hamilton-Rudolph shared a similar sentiment about wanting to have Pickett’s back.
“Everybody was just recording. No one helped,” Hamilton-Rudolph added. “So I couldn’t just watch and sit around and just let him get beat on while everybody else is just recording and watching.”
In a written statement to police at the time, Pickett said that he was hanging on “for dear life” as several white boaters attacked him.
Initially, 13 people were detained and released. However, just four white people and one Black person face misdemeanor charges in connection with the brawl, and each of them has pleaded not guilty, The Associated Press reported earlier this month.