*The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Thursday announced year seven of Operation Bike Week Justice in Myrtle Beach, an organized effort to monitor the weekend of Atlantic Beach Bike Bikefest for any acts of discrimination.
The civil rights group says it will make sure black bikers are treated the same as white bikers who were just in the Grand Strand for the Harley Davidson Bike Rally.
“When they come to Myrtle Beach they should not be treated differently because of their race,” said Rev. Nelson Rivers III, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations Field Operations and Membership Department for the NAACP.
Operation Bike Week Justice began in 2005, two years after the organization sued the city for using a different traffic pattern on Ocean Boulevard during Black Bike Week, and for allegedly policing more harshly. The lawsuit also made discrimination claims against several businesses, which allegedly closed or changed hours to avoid the black bikers.
City spokesperson Mark Kruea said the NAACP decided to settle the lawsuit in 2006. He said the city had a zero tolerance policy for discrimination at the time of the lawsuit and it still does.
Kruea pointed out that the city does not change traffic patterns for either bike rally any more. Since the Harley rally no longer draws crowds to Ocean Boulevard the city did not make any law enforcement adjustments in that area this year either. He said a similar stance can be expected during Memorial Day weekend, but the city will be expecting a large crowd for Memorial Day related events.
“We’ll have a parade down there, “Kruea said. “We have concerts. So we’ll have a lot of people downtown this weekend that we didn’t necessarily have last weekend.”
Rivers said the NAACP continues to target Myrtle Beach because that is where the alleged problems have been in previous years. He said just because the city has worked to reduce the rallies and the fact that the rallies are now more centralized north and south of the city does not change the organization’s concerns.