NAACP responds to bike loop, offers plan to help with 'equality'

NAACP Leaders said at a press conference, the City of Myrtle Beach is using the bike loop to keep African American bikers out of Myrtle Beach. The city declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

Less than 24 hours after a federal judge ruled to keep the 23-mile traffic loop for Bikefest, NAACP leaders said the "war" isn't over.

"We're here to right the wrong that has been heaped upon our people," said Rev. Kenneth Floyd, a member of the Conway NAACP Branch.

Rev. Floyd spoke with another leader, Anson Asaka, associate general counsel Thursday morning at City Hall at a press conference scheduled before they knew the 23- mile bike loop would be in effect.

"We're not going to let a court ruling turn us around," said Asaka, from the podium. "This is just the beginning of the fight. We are in it for the long haul."

Officials maintain the loop is for traffic and safety, after multiple shootings that left three dead during Bikefest in 2014. That following year, officials set up the loop and it's been in place every year since.

The NAACP argued their case in front of a federal judge May 8. Asaka wasn't happy to hear the decision.

"[It's] 23 miles of humiliation, it's 23 miles of degradation, it's 23 miles of discrimination," he said.

He argues the loop isn't used for other highly populated events like Harley Week or the Carolina Country Music Festival.

"The real attempt behind this traffic plan is to discourage African Americans from attending Black Bike Week. It's just that plain and simple," said Asaka.

For Sam Cox, Bikefest has a special meaning. He's now president of the Carolina Knight Riders, the group that founded the the event more than 30 years ago.

"I'm always concerned about how these people are being treated after we done everything we did to get 'em here," he said. "Everybody's created equal, so everybody should be treated equal as well, because you got the shag's no barricades, okay? You got beach parties. No barricades."

This year, leaders say they'll use a new approach for the weekend. It will involve the help of a group of volunteers, Asaka said.

"We will have monitors on the boulevard and throughout the city monitoring the police, monitoring the traffic, monitoring the situation to ensure that all people are treated equally," he said.

We reached out to the City of Myrtle Beach for comment on the ruling. The city is still in a lawsuit with the NAACP over the loop. A representative declined to comment on pending litigation.

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