$275K Raised for Chair-Wielding Brawl Participant

Reggie Ray 'in good spirits' as he leaves jail
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2023 7:53 AM CDT
$275K Raised for Chair-Wielding Brawl Participant
The Harriott II riverboat sits docked in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. A riverfront brawl occurred on Aug. 5 when a crew member was punched for trying to move a pontoon boat that was blocking the riverboat from docking.   (AP Photo/Kim Chandler, File)

More than $275,000 has been raised to help a Black man who wielded a folding chair in the Aug. 5 brawl on the riverfront in Montgomery, Alabama. Reggie Ray became something of a viral sensation after footage allegedly showed him hitting a white man and a white woman with the chair, per Newsweek. The fight erupted when Dameion Pickett, the Black co-captain of the city-owned Harriott II riverboat, moved a pontoon boat that was illegally parked and preventing the riverboat and its 200 passengers from docking. When several white people from the pontoon boat attacked Pickett and a 16-year-old deckhand, Ray jumped in.

Pickett told police that the captain of the riverboat had repeatedly asked the group to move their boat via loudspeaker. Pickett said the group responded by "giving us the finger and packing up to leave." Eventually, Pickett and the white deckhand took a boat to shore and moved the pontoon boat themselves. Pickett said he was then attacked by several people, at least one of whom threatened to kill him. A witness also described hearing the attackers use a racial slur, per Newsweek. Four white boaters—Allen Todd, 23; Zachery Shipman, 25; Richard Roberts, 48; and Mary Todd, 21—are now facing assault charges, while 42-year-old Ray faces a charge of disorderly conduct, per Insider.

In the opinion of his lawyer, Lee Merritt, Ray was "involuntarily roped into the disorderly conduct initiated by a violent white mob," per ABC News. Merritt launched a GoFundMe for Ray and another client who participated in the brawl over the weekend "to offset the cost of certain damages incurred by my clients and others," including "medical bills, lost wages/earnings, professional services, travel, lodging and expenses." Some $276,000 has been raised as of this writing. Ray surrendered to police on Friday and has been released on bail. Merritt noted Ray was "in good spirits" and "relieved to discover the community showed up for him and others in such strong way." (Read more Alabama stories.)

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