top of page
  • Writer's pictureKaren Brittingham-Edmond

I Got A Chair! Why The Alabama Brawl Ignited Action From Onlooking Black Citizens

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

August 8, 2023

Several people were taken into custody on Saturday, August 5, 2023, after a fight broke out at Montgomery's Riverfront Park In Alabama. A Black Co-Captain by the name of Mr. Damien Pickett of The Harriet II River Boat was attacked by a group of White boaters who were upset that the Black co-captain enforced the law because White boaters were parked in an area reserved for the Harriott II Riverboat. This showboat has parked in that area for years.

Srishti Marwah wrote an article in Sport Skeeda Online Magazine titled:

"Ancestral beating": Big Harriott boat history explored as Montgomery Alabama Riverfront brawl video sparks hilarious reactions online" shares that "from 1798 to 1805," the original Harriot Slave boat, "carried thousands of enslaved people to Barbados and then to Liverpool. However, post this, it was owned by Barton & Co and also cruised between Liverpool and Africa. It now serves as a relaxing luxury liner and is one of Montgomery's tourist attractions, which offers visitors dinner, dancing, live entertainment, and more."

Per Jasmine Williams of WSFA Channel 12 News of Alabama, the fight went down like this an argument erupted between the Black co-captain and one of the White men who illegally parked in a reserved parking area for the Harriet II. Suddenly an additional white man rushes and hits Pickett, who backs up and tosses his hat into the air. Then the fight begins with several White people attacking the Black co-captain for doing his job. This ignited outrage from onlooking, Black citizens on the river showboat.

Black people started shouting, "Y'all help that brother!" to onlookers on the shore! Hence Black citizens on the dock and Black folks on the boat responded. A young co-worker witnessing the brutal attack launched into the water and swam voraciously to aid the older co-worker being attacked for doing his job. By the time incident was over and posted to social media, even White people were posting about why Black citizens had every right to attack White attackers of a Black co-captain of The Harriett II River Boat who was doing his job. And if they were there, they would have helped.

All thou violence is not conduct that most American citizens condone. The reality is that specific outrage reactions can be a way to expose wrongdoers. The public expression shared by Black citizens and social media response to the bad behavior of a particular group of White citizens acting up on a docking area where Black citizens' ancestors were sold into chattel slavery in North America is justifiable. According to a study by Rothchild and Keefer (2017), titled "A Cleansing Fire," moral outrage often is less about outing someone else for problematic behavior than inflating one's sense of self by buffering threats to one's own moral identity." Per the study "A Cleansing Fire," anger, disgust, or frustration is justifiably directed toward others who violate ethical values, standards, or laws. Over and over again. Much like how the parol department of N.J. institutes a mass incarceration of Black citizens over petty charges coupled with excessive fines primarily. In comparison, undocumented immigrants regularly break federal laws with the help of special interest groups, nonprofits, and state departments and prosper in their wrongdoing. While one too many Black citizens find themselves or loved ones railed roaded and often killed in prison because of Jim Crow policy and systematic racism. Which is morally, ethically, and legally not right and will continue until Black citizens take a stand, speak up, and make a difference in concern of their people.

Per a scholarly article in Zygon Religious & Science journal by Ward H. Goodenough titled "Moral Outrage: Territoriality In Human Guise. ". 1997;32(1):5–27. also published in the NCBI (U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine) confirms that "Moral outrage is a response to the behavior of others, never one's own. It is a response to infringements or transgressions on what people perceive to be the immunities they, or others with whom they identify, can expect based on their rights and privileges and what they understand to be their reasonable expectations regarding the behavior of others."

Portrait of a enslaved depressed African teenager in North America kidnapped from her family and feeling hopeless.

African American citizens have been mired by systematic failures and inadequate access to resources that they, their parents, plus great-great and great great great grandparents' tax dollars paid for. Furthermore, their African and their 1st Nation ancestors on the east coast of North America were forced to build this country under duress. With whom ancestors were regularly attacked and misused by colonists who lacked any sense of moral behavior. Like the boaters who thought it was normal or ok to park in an area, they had no rights. Likewise decided that they had every right to put their hands and punch, kick, and wrestle to the ground, Pickett a Black co-captain enforcing the law and doing his job, which is his reasonable duty as a river dock security personnel. The enforcement of the law is for the protection of all people visiting the dock to enjoy a day at the park. Case closed. Citizens and co-workers who reacted to the bad behavior of other citizens attacking the riverboat co-captain should not be penalized for their conduct at all, in my opinion.

Their reaction plus cultural trauma include the non-payment of reparations owed to them when witnessing the assault upon another fellow African American citizen just doing his job. Triggered a moral outrage that focused their attention on what is fundamentally at stake because of the trauma of chattel slavery plus ongoing injustices in North America today. The crowd reacted to the historical threats to Black citizens' sense of safety, integrity, well-being, and emotions which sparked outrage, motivating Black citizens to persevere in judging the situation that birthed the courage to act despite resistance or fear. Hence America witnessed something Black citizens hadn't done for quite a while. Black citizens at the site of the incident did not react, employing autopilot cognition. Instead, they allowed themselves to choose a deliberate, respectful, impactful way to express their moral outrage, which aligned with their Christian values and commitments to confront wrongdoers head-on, just like their ancestors Black, White, and North American Natives who won the Civil War.

Thanks for reading, and please enjoy American pianist Thelonious Monk's son T.S. Monk's song Bon Bon Vie.


Yahoo! News author Jahaura Michelle published Aug 7, 2023, "Black Bystanders Rally Behind Security Guard Attacked By White Boaters In Montgomery Riverfront Brawl.”

Alabama Marine Law Enforcement Boating Rules and Regulations

WSFA News 12

Moral outrage: Promise Or Peril?”

Moral Outrage: Territoriality in Human Guise Zygon®Volume 32, Issue 1 p. 5-27 author Ward H. Goodenough Journal of Religion and Science

Psychology Today author Glenn Geher Ph.D. published March 11, 2021 “Why Does Outrage Often Feel So Good?”

Harriet II River Boat

170 views0 comments
  • Facebook
  • Instagram


Your donation is greatly appreciated!

bottom of page