"It makes no sense to have six people try to beat the snot out of you just because you moved their boat up a few feet," Harriott II captain Jim Kittrell explained to The Daily Beast.
"This whole thing was just because these guys were being assholes," Capt. Kittrell told the site on Tuesday. "I was as sweet as a peach when I first approached them, saying, 'Please help me out here, fellas. 'Raise the boat a little.'"
A brawl between Kittrell's deckhand, Damien Pickett, and pontoon boaters is captured on tape. Pickett tries to negotiate with the drunken crowd, and video shows him pushing the pontoon boat a few feet to make place for the riverboat. A white man is shown on camera rushing Pickett and striking him in the face.
Several more join in on the assault, hurling racial obscenities at Pickett.
Several Black onlookers rushed in to assist Pickett, including a "heroic" young man named Aaren, who swam across a river.
Arrest warrants have been filed for three of the attackers, according to The Daily Beast: Richard Roberts, 48, Allen Todd, 23, and Zachary Shipman, 25. According to Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert, they face third-degree assault charges.
"The white guys that attacked my deckhand—and he was a senior deckhand first mate—I can't think of any other reason they attacked him other than it being racially motivated," Kittrell explained. "All he did was lift their boat three feet higher." It makes no sense for six people to try to beat you up just because you pushed their boat up a few feet. The attack on Damien, in my judgment, was racially motivated."
The fight, according to Kittrell, was not a "black and white" matter.
"It was just a bunch of shipmates trying to help a shipmate," he explained. "They didn't mind if they were small green men. When they attacked Damien, my crew was going to rush out and do whatever they could to help him. It was just my crew vs the people who attacked their shipmate."