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Montgomery brawl “chair man” arrested; allegations of racial slurs

The man seen hitting several people with a folding chair during the Montgomery brawl has been arrested.

A screenshot from a video of the brawl, showing a man being arrested after using a chair to hit other people. Facebook

Reggie Ray, the “chair man” of the Montgomery Riverfront brawl, as he’s been dubbed on social media, has been arrested for striking several people with a folding chair, bringing the total number of arrests from the viral brawl to five. 

At the same time, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed questioned whether the attack that started the brawl was racially motivated, while the mother of a victim said racial slurs were used and another victim told CNN that his attackers promised to kill him. 

Videos of the brawl that occurred more than a week ago continue to be popular on social media. It was touched off after a group of white boaters attacked the Black co-captain of Montgomery Harriott II riverboat. The co-captain, Damieon Pickett, got away from the attackers after a few seconds. When Pickett’s coworkers – and some passengers – aboard the Harriott were able to get off the boat at the dock, they took revenge on the boaters. 

That included Ray, who was a passenger. He could be seen on numerous videos swinging a folding chair and repeatedly striking the boaters. He was eventually taken to the ground and handcuffed by police but later released. Ray turned himself on Friday on a disorderly conduct charge. 

Ray’s arrest came after four of the original attackers – Mary Todd, 21, Allen Todd, 23, Zachary Shipman, 25, and Richard Roberts, 48. Those four were charged with third-degree assault. 

But more charges are possible, Montgomery Police chief Darryl Albert said again on Friday, and both Reed and Albert said the investigation is still trying to determine if the original attack merited a hate crime designation. 

“One witness did say that racial epithets, slurs were used – that they heard that,” Reed said during an interview on the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast. “If we’re able to corroborate that, then we will speak with the (district attorney) and others, as well as the FBI, about whether does this change their position. Because we’re taking their lead as it relates to what the charges can be. 

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“Looking at it now, if it doesn’t meet the legal definition of a hate crime, it meets the moral definition. From my standpoint, I get that and I wouldn’t argue that. But we have to make sure that emotions don’t override logic.’ 

The allegations of racial slurs came from an arrest warrant filled out by the mother of a 16-year-old dock worker, who was punched by the white boaters during the initial attack of Pickett. The worker, who is also white, was trying to assist Pickett in moving the pontoons so the Harriott could park. 

In a sworn statement to police, the mother said she could hear the attackers scream “f**k that ni**er” as they repeatedly punched and kicked Pickett. She said one of the men punched her son as he attempted to pull people off of Pickett. 

In his statement to police, Pickett did not mention racial slurs, but said he heard the men and women who attacked him yelling that “Imma kill you.” He said he felt as if he was fighting for his life.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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