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The Harriott, a riverboat, remains docked on August 8, 2023, on the Alabama riverfront in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. | Source: Julie Bennett / Getty

It’s been more than three months since the Riverfront Park brawl in Montgomery, Alabama, became a proud viral moment in contemporary Black history. Now, there’s a development that is bound to have Black people across America ready to swing folding chairs at any and everything: Dameion Pickett has been charged with a crime.

Pickett, the Harriott II riverboat’s co-captain who was jumped by a group of white people just before Black people rushed in to help, has been charged with third-degree assault because another defendant in the case, Zachary Shipman, is claiming Pickett struck him, not the other way around.

From WSFA 12 News:

Pickett, shown below in the black hat, previously said other defendants, including Zachary Shipman, attacked him, with Shipman hitting and kicking him. Shipman alleges in a new complaint that he was not trying to fight Pickett, but was defending himself and suffered a bruised cheekbone after Pickett allegedly punched him in the face.

Shipman was previously charged with assaulting Pickett and is scheduled for trial later this month. He has pleaded not guilty. Pickett has not yet entered a plea.

First of all, even if (and it’s a huge “if”) it’s true that Shipman just happened to innocently find himself in the middle of the mele and got hit by the man who was defending himself while being jumped by several people—that’s a thing he should both figuratively and literally take on the chin given the circumstances. Pickett is widely understood to be the victim in the brawl. All Shipman is likely to do is make himself even less popular by pressing charges against Pickett just because he caught a little lump while the true victim was fighting for his life. And that’s only if you believe Shipman was just an innocent bystander trying to defend himself. (Again—huge “if.” Gynormous “if.” If “ifs” were measured in inches, this would be the Eiffel Tower of “ifs.”)

In fact, the idea of Pickett being charged with any crime connected to the brawl is so unpopular that the Montgomery Police Department is working harder than any police department has likely ever worked to ensure the public that it wasn’t law enforcement’s idea to criminally charge a Black man.

“The City of Montgomery and Montgomery Police Department have been made aware that one of the individuals involved in the incident at Montgomery Riverfront Park on August 5, 2023, has filed charges against Harriet II co-captain Dameion Pickett. Neither the City nor the Montgomery Police Department filed these charges. The Montgomery Police Department’s investigation only lists Mr. Pickett as a victim,” the city and the police department wrote in a joint statement. WSFA confirmed that “Pickett was not arrested or booked into any jail but was served with a summons on Oct. 26 to appear in court on Nov. 21.”

As previously reported, two out of the five (and now six) individuals charged with crimes related to the brawl pleaded guilty and have received their sentences. The other three, including Shipman, pleaded not guilty and had their cases continued.


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