Alabama boat brawl: Riverfront Park ship captain says group of white men who started mass fight visit every year and once stole the staff GOLF CART

Alabama boat brawl: Riverfront Park ship captain says group of white men who started mass fight visit every year and once stole the staff GOLF CART

An Alabama captain has spoken out about what took place before a now-infamous brawl between white pleasure craft boaters and black staff from a riverboat – and says several crewmembers are pressing charges.

Jim Kittrell, the captain of the Harriot II, claimed he and his crew had previous issues with the the pleasure craft boaters before violence erupted on Saturday at Montgomery’s Riverfront Park.

Speaking on Alabama’s 93.1 radio station, he explained that he has been trying to dock the vessel but was unable to because the pontoon boat had already taken the spot.

And it was not the first time the crew encountered the boaters, who once even stole one of their golf carts, according to Kittrell.

‘One point I do want to make, this was not a black and white thing,’ he said.

Jim Kittrell, the captain of the Harriot II, claimed he and his crew had previous issues with the the pleasure craft boaters before violence erupted on Saturday at Montgomery’s Riverfront 

Footage captured the moment a black man smacked a white boater with a chair during a brawl in Alabama between black staff from a cruise and white pleasure craft owners

‘I had every single white crew member male on the boat was on the dock. 

‘This was our crew upset about these idiots. This is the same group that comes every year. They’re from Selma. And, we’ve had trouble with them in the past, but just like jokey things. 

‘A couple of years ago, this same group was here. We came back from a cruise and our golf cart was missing. …we finally found it in the Hampton Inn lobby. We looked at the Hampton Inn video. Found out who did it and we had them come down. We were going to press charges then, but the police talked us out of it.’

Kittrell said he asked the pontoon boat’s passengers to move the boat about five times through his PA system before the fight erupted. When that failed, the captain warned the group that he would call police who would see the alcohol on the boat.

‘They started shooting birds at us, so I called the police,’ Kittrell told the local radio station.

The boaters then reportedly left the scene, leaving their ship blocking the way.

Kittrell then asked for help from another captain to use their smaller boat to ferry his senior deckhand to move the boat. That’s when things turned violent, he said.

‘[I]n the boating world, it’s common if you have to move somebody’s boat, it’s nothing to get upset about, » he said. 

‘[But] After they moved it, those guys came running back. They must have still been in the park or up in the gazebo or something.’

The crew was in their own boat reportedly 40 yards or 30 yards from the dock when the group came back.

He claimed: ‘There’s nothing we can do. About that time, another guy comes running up. And, within a minute or so, it was an all-out brawl. 

‘And then I saw some more guys coming, and I said, « Oh. Thank God. They’re going to break it up. » But instead of breaking it up, they jumped on him too. So, at one time, it was like six, seven guys on my deckhand that was trying to move the boat.’

Once the riverboat hit the dock, Kittrell’s crew jumped in to help their colleague, the captain said.

‘As soon as the boat hits the dock, some of my crew, who saw my first-mate Damian being attacked, felt they had to retaliate. Which was unfortunate. I wish we could have stopped that from happening, but when you see something like that, and it was difficult. It was difficult for me to sit there in the wheelhouse, watching him being attacked,’ Kittrell continued.

The brawl has captured the nation’s attention, as details continue to emerge of what led to the violence. 

One of the men involved in the brawl has been identified by the public and local media as Zachary Shipman, owner of the Vasser’s Mini Mart in Selma.

Shipman received backlash after posting video of the brawl online, claiming he tried getting away from it, as reported by the Selma Times-Journal.

He wrote: ‘I am sure most of you have seen the news about the riverboat incident. Yes, I was there but I was the first to try to get away.

‘You can see in the video I attached, and I do not condone what happened. I tried to stop it and realized that I could not, so I tried to get away. There is a video of me being the first to run away because what was happening was wrong and I did not want to be a part of it.

‘I realize I have a business to run and represent and no charges were filed against me because I was not involved.’

But commenters said the footage showed Shipman was more involved than he was admitting to, and have started flooding his business page with bad reviews.

Chief of police Darryl Albert said on Tuesday the incident occurred after a private boat owner and his family took the designated docking space for the Harriot, a tourist vessel that takes passengers up and down the Alabama river.

Albert said 13 people were detained at the scene. Three suspects – all white men – have been charged for assault: Richard Roberts, 48, Alan Todd, 23, and Zachary Shipman, 35. 

They have been instructed to turn themselves in and only one is in custody, The other two are e set to turn themselves in on Tuesday.

Police have also asked to speak with Reggie Gray, the black man who was seen throwing the folding chair. He has not been charged.

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