Myrtle Beach – For the seventh consecutive year, the NAACP will conduct Operation Bike Week Justice to monitor discriminatory practices in Myrtle Beach during Black Bike Week, the annual Memorial Day weekend gathering of African American motorcycle enthusiasts.
Throughout the weekend, NAACP teams will be observing police activity and treatment of black tourists, monitoring the practices of local businesses, watching traffic patterns and fielding calls via an incident hotline.
“Any form of racial discrimination against Black Bike Week visitors will not be tolerated,” said NAACP Vice President of Stakeholder Relations Nelson B. Rivers, III, and a native South Carolinian. “Closing businesses or refusing to provide equal services to Black Bike Week visitors that are provided to visitors at other times of the year, not only makes no economic sense, it is against the law.”
In 2009, the City enacted ordinances designed to eliminate the Harley Week and Black Bike Week. The ordinances prohibit parking lot gatherings, landscape gatherings, loud mufflers and many special events.
Additionally, the City has implemented curfew laws. The Association will be monitoring law enforcement to ensure the new ordinances are equally and fairly applied during Harley Week and Black Bike Week.
“The NAACP supports reasonable regulations,” said Myrtle Beach Branch NAACP President Mickey James. “However, the Association will oppose any discriminatory enforcement of city ordinances.”
In recent years, the NAACP and African Americans have filed and successfully settled federal discrimination lawsuits against the city of Myrtle Beach and area businesses for unequal treatment of Black Bike Week visitors compared to those who attend Harley Week, traditionally held one week earlier and a predominately white event.
“All Myrtle Beach tourists must be treated equally,” said NAACP General Counsel Kim M. Keenan. “When necessary, the NAACP will continue to utilize litigation to end such discriminatory practices.”
Although the NAACP’s settlement agreement expired last year, the Association expects the Myrtle Beach Police Department to train all officers deployed during Black Bike Week on policing crowds and cultural sensitivity.
“The NAACP is committed to fair and equal treatment of all people,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We support everyone’s right to recreational opportunities and discrimination should not be tolerated for anyone.”
Again this year, a complaint hotline will be activated for individuals to report closed restaurants, police misconduct or other unfair treatment. Black Bike Week attendees can report incidents by calling (888) 362-8683 or by visiting Sandy Grove Baptist Church at 1008 Carver Street, Myrtle Beach, SC to file a complaint in person.