By Nick Mordowanec
MONTGOMERY, AL – An Alabama elementary school teacher was investigated after being alleged by some community members to have helped start a fight at a boat dock on Saturday, though the school district has stated that none of their personnel were involved.
A brawl occurred at about 7 p.m. Saturday in Montgomery, according to local law enforcement. Videos from the ordeal soon went viral, showing a group of white individuals attacking a Black dock worker after a pontoon boat reportedly blocked the Harriott II Riverboat attraction from parking near Montgomery Riverfront Park.
Police issued four warrants over the weekend for participants in what Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed deemed “an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.”
Authorities have not released the names of those with warrants, but some online are alleging that an employee at Sophia P. Kingston Elementary in the Selma City Schools District, participated in or possibly helped start the brawl.
Numerous Facebook posts and comments have specifically mentioned the employee by name, with one user linking her personal Facebook page and photos to Chase Shipman. Newsweek could not verify whether the school’s employee was present or participated in Saturday’s incident.
Shipman is the owner of local convenience store Vasser’s Mini Mart in Selma, whose business has been bombed with negative reviews on websites like Yelp after he admitted in a since-removed Facebook post that he was present during Saturday’s fight.
He has denied being involved in any violence caught on video.
Selma City Schools Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd addressed the allegations in a press release issued on Sunday, telling concerned stakeholders that it was aware of the incident in Montgomery.
“We have fully investigated allegations that one of our employees may have been involved,” the statement reads. “Based on our findings, there is no evidence to support that a Selma City Schools employee was involved in the incident.”
In an email to Newsweek, a Selma City Schools official referred to Byrd’s statement and provided no additional comment or information pertaining to the investigation.
One Facebook user called out the duo and wrote, “Ok, let’s see what happens to them!!!! I need some answers.”
That post has been commented on over 1,800 times, with some calling for the employee’s termination while others questioned how the school district conducted a full investigation in the course of less than 24 hours.
“If they was black, they would’ve immediately got charged and slandered without question,” one user wrote.
As of Monday afternoon, both the Selma City Schools and Sophia P. Kingston Facebook pages have disallowed comments to be posted or viewed by the public.
Update 08/07/23, 5:19 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Selma City Schools.
Update 08/07/23, 6:53 p.m. ET: This article was updated to remove the Selma City School District employee’s name.