“DO THE RIGHT THING” NAACP LAUNCHES 5TH OPERATION BIKE WEEK JUSTICE?MONITORING CONTINUES

The NAACP will again keep a close watch on the City of Myrtle Beach and local businesses this holiday weekend as annual Black Bike Week festivities commence.

For the fifth consecutive year, the NAACP will conduct Operation Bike Week Justice to monitor activities in the resort town during the annual Memorial Day weekend gathering of African American motorcycle enthusiasts. Throughout the weekend, NAACP teams will be monitoring police activity and treatment of black tourists, observing the practices of local businesses and watching traffic patterns.

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. 

Negotiated settlements have been reached with the City of Myrtle Beach, Damon’s Oceanfront and Barefoot Landing, Greg Norman’s Australian Grill and six other businesses.

“The NAACP remains vigilant in order to ensure all tourists are treated equally,” said NAACP Interim General Counsel Angela Ciccolo.  “When necessary, the NAACP will continue to pursue litigation to right these wrongs.”

“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, 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.” 

As a result of the NAACP’s hard work, several restaurants that were closed in prior years have opened their doors and welcomed black bikers. And now, the Myrtle Beach Police Department uses the same traffic pattern on Ocean Boulevard from 29th Avenue North to 17th Avenue South, during the times of 2:00 p.m. to midnight on Harley and Black Bike weekends.  Under a settlement agreement, the Myrtle Beach Police Department must also train all officers deployed during Black Bike Week on policing crowds and cultural sensitivity. 

Some progress has been made over the last three years, notably the successful conclusion of every federal discrimination lawsuit filed in Myrtle Beach that arose from complaints by African American tourists who attended Black Bike Week festivities between 1999 and 2007.   However, several establishments remain closed and continue to engage in discriminatory practices despite being aware of the lawsuits and Operation Black Bike Week Justice. 

Moreover, the City has 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 new helmet and 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 the new ordinances.”

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 come to Mount Olive A.M.E. Church located at 1108 Carver Street [in Myrtle Beach] to file a complaint in person. Dozens of calls last year listed complaints against businesses for increased prices and noted police misconduct, frivolous charges and large fines for minor offenses.     

“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.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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Contact:  Leila McDowell Lmcdowell@naacpnet.org   (202) 463-2940 ext 1005

 

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