City of Myrtle Beach denies 'each and every allegation' in NAACP's Black Bike Week lawsuit

(WPDE file image)

The City of Myrtle Beach has filed its response to the NAACP's lawsuit alleging that African American tourists are discriminated against during Black Bike Week, saying it denies "each and every allegation" in the NAACP's suit.

Officials with the NAACP have said that the city's plans for the motorcycle rally over Memorial Day weekend, including a 23-mile traffic loop and increased police presence, are discriminatory against the black attendees coming for the event also known as Bikefest.

The NAACP says “the City seeks to make Black Bike Week sufficiently unpleasant for the mostly African-American motorcyclists, hoping that they stop attending the event and that it ceases to exist.”

But the city says in its response that that is not true.

The "motivations for their policies are clear. Defendants seek to make the alleged Black Bike Week sufficiently safe for all visitors," the suit says.

The NAACP's suit says the city treats Harley Week, which occurs in early May, very differently than Black Bike Week, which occurs over Memorial Day weekend.

“The City of Myrtle Beach and its police department impose no formal traffic plan during Harley Week. However, during Black Bike Week they restrict the main two-way thoroughfare, Ocean Boulevard, to a single lane of southbound traffic. All vehicles entering Ocean Boulevard at night are forced to travel through a 23-mile loop with just one exit. On Saturday night of Black Bike Week, it could take over six hours to complete the loop,” a news release states.

Related: NAACP says Memorial Day weekend traffic loop is '23 miles of shame'

The city says in the suit that "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."

The city also points out in its suit that it enacted numerous ordinances that applied equally to all motorcycles and were designed to make riding motorcycles in the city safer and "participants of the alleged Harley Week were offended by the City‘s ordinances and felt the City was hostile to them," and the group wound up moving the main events for the week outside of the city limits in protest.

The filing also says the city's plan has decreased violence during Memorial Day Weekend.

"Defendants deny that no link was drawn between the violence and Black Bike Week....Defendants would show that violence has decreased during Memorial Day Weekend as a result of the implementation of traffic control strategies since 2014," the suit says.

The NAACP wants to hear from you about any issues with previous bike weeks. Please call their hotline at 888-362-8683.

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