Police in Montgomery, Ala., detained several people over the weekend after a brawl broke out at the city’s popular Riverfront Park when a group of white boaters appeared to attack a Black security guard. The violent scene, captured on video by bystanders, has stoked memories of the city’s racist history.
There are four active warrants and “a possibility” that more will follow after reviewing additional video, the Montgomery police said in a statement. Mayor Steven L. Reed and local police officials plan to speak about the event at a news conference on Tuesday.
Mr. Reed, the city’s first Black mayor, condemned the “several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job” and called on the police to investigate “these intolerable actions.”
The Montgomery police have released few details of what transpired. In a statement, the police said that officers responded to the riverfront around 7 p.m. on Saturday and found “a large group of subjects engaged in a physical altercation.”
However, multiple bystanders captured the incident on video from multiple angles that showed how a lively Saturday afternoon on the Alabama River turned into an all-out brawl.
The altercation appears to have begun when a group of white boaters docked a small boat in the way of a larger riverboat on the Gun Island Chute portion of the Alabama River in Montgomery. The riverboat, known as the Harriott II, is a cruise that offers guests dining and live entertainment along a stretch of the Alabama River.
Videos appear to show a Black guard moving the boat out of the way, which is followed by a verbal confrontation by the white boaters. One of the men then punches the Black man, who is jumped on and beaten by the other white boaters; one of them appears to try to place the Black man in a headlock. Other videos show another Black man, who appears to be a staff member of the Harriott II, jump off the riverboat and swim to the dock to defend the guard before other Black bystanders join them on the deck. Several videos show one Black bystander hitting a white man with a folding chair.
The fight, which appeared largely to be down racial lines, garnered cartoons, TikToks and even re-enactments on social media. Many users responded to the seeming reversal of fates along one of America’s most brutal historical markers of the slave trade. The dock was the same location where enslaved Americans arrived on a steamboat to be sold in the center of town.