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Myrtle Beach fires back against claims made by NAACP about Black Bike Week

WPDE file photo of Bikefest

The City of Myrtle Beach said it does not have intent to drive Black Bike Week from the city, but that it did create a task force in response to the nine shooting incidents, as well as traffic conditions, that occurred during Memorial Day Weekend in 2014.

On Tuesday, the city responded to an amended complaint made by the NAACP regarding what the NAACP says are "discriminatory" practices against the black attendees who attend Black Bike Week, which happens over Memorial Day weekend.

Those practices include a 23-mile traffic loop and increased police presence, according to the NAACP.

In the amended complaint, the NAACP claimed that white leaders from the city and the hospitality industry were overtly hostile toward the people attending Black Bike Week, but the city said that never happened, according to a federal lawsuit.

The city also said no special rules and policies were put into place to stop Black Bike Week in Myrtle Beach or to discourage African Americans from visiting Myrtle Beach.

"Defendants would further show that all ordinances enacted for traffic control use are related to public safety and apply to all persons equally," according to the lawsuit.

The city did admit that there has been a general increase in gun violence and shootings in the last several years throughout the City and the United States.

However, they city said that violence has decreased during Memorial Day weekend because of the traffic control strategies since 2014.

In the NAACP complaint, attorneys detailed how former Mayor Mark McBride was a vocal Black Bike Week critic, advocated for the events to end, and lobbied the state of South Carolina to deploy the National Guard to Myrtle Beach in an attempt to intimidate Black Bike Week participants.

Attorneys for the city denied those claims and reiterated that Mark McBride has not been the mayor for the past 13 years.

The city said in the response that they are not trying to make Black Bike Week unpleasant for people, but rather, the lawsuit states they want to "make the alleged Black Bike Week sufficiently safe for all visitors."

The NAACP raised questions about the increase in law enforcement officers during Black Bike Week, but the city said they're enforcing its laws to the best of its ability at all times.

One of the bigger issues raised by the NAACP is that attendees to Black Bike Week are not treated the same as the people who attend Harley Week and, specifically, that there is no traffic loop during Harley Week, according to the lawsuit.

The response from the city states that they do have a formal traffic plan for Harley Week, but that it is different than what is done during Bike Week.

"Different traffic control strategies are always in place and any special events occurring during the alleged Harley Week would have to comply with the City’s special events ordinances which include approved traffic plans," according to the lawsuit.

The city denies that it is violating any constitutional rights or civil rights.

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