Thursday, March 1, 2018

NAACP sues Myrtle Beach over "aggressive" policing tactics during 'Black Bike Week'

A judge found that the city's rules were "likely motivated by race" in a 2005

Posted by Adam Manno on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 6:58 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA BLACK BIKE WEEK/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Black Bike Week/Facebook
The NAACP and three individuals are suing the City of Myrtle Beach and its police department for allegedly restricting traffic and and deploying far more police officers during "Black Bike Week" than it does during a majority-white biker event.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday morning, points out that no traffic plan is implemented during Harley Week, but that those who visit Black Bike Week a week later are met with a punishing traffic loop that can take as long as six hours to traverse.

The plaintiffs are listed as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, its Myrtle Beach branch, and the individuals Simuel Jones, Leslie Stevenson, and Cedric Stevenson.

This isn't the first time the NAACP has called foul on rules for Black Bike Week.

In 2005, the NAACP was granted a preliminary injunction after the court found that differences in traffic plans between Black Bike Week and Harley Week, the majority white event, were "likely motivated by race and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution."

The association says that the city retaliated with an even harsher traffic plan in 2015, five years after a settlement agreement with the city expired.

The white-majority Harley Week began in the 1940s and typically lasts for 10 days. Between drag races and live music performances, the event draws hundreds of thousands of participants to Myrtle Beach. Black Bike Week, on the other hand, began in the 1980s and is currently held in Atlantic Beach, a predominantly black beach town.

The current loop was created in 2015 after a Memorial Day weekend that included a shooting on Ocean Boulevard that injured eight people, according to The Sun News.

Officials said the loop was created to control traffic, but the NAACP is pushing back by citing the storied pushback that Black Bike Week attendees have noticed throughout the years, which stands in contrast to the "explicit, public welcoming" Harley Week bikers, according to NAACP complaint.

“The City’s traffic plan does not facilitate traffic,” said Myrtle Beach Branch NAACP president Mickey James in a statement. “It does not promote public safety. Unfortunately, it is designed to discourage African-Americans from attending Black Bike Week.”

This year's Harley Week, also known as Myrtle Beach Bike Week, is scheduled from May 11 to May 20. Black Bike Week 2018 is scheduled for May 25 to May 28.

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