MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The NAACP’s Black Bike Week discrimination lawsuit against the City of Myrtle Beach and its police department went to trial on Wednesday.
The local branch of the NAACP filed a race discrimination suit alleging the city and police discriminate against African-American tourists. A total of nine plaintiffs are listed: Harry Briggs, Novice Briggs, Kenneth Coleman, Simuel Jones, Tyrone Kinard, William Lassiter, Cedric Stevenson, Leslie Stevenson, and the Myrtle Beach branch of the NAACP.
The group alleges Black Bike Week has been met with opposition and resistance and is treated differently than Harley Week, which is an annual event in the same area. “The city does not implement a formal traffic plan for Harley Week and the mostly white participants are essentially able to travel around the Myrtle Beach area just as they would on any other day of the year,” the lawsuit claims.
The city does not implement a formal traffic plan for Harley Week, for example. However, during Black Bike Week, Ocean Boulevard is usually reduced to a single lane of one-way traffic. And all motorists entering Ocean Boulevard are forced into a 23-mile loop that has just one exit.
The lawsuit further claims that the City of Myrtle Beach “also maintains significantly different levels of law enforcement between the two bike rallies” and that “the city’s motivation for the policies is clear: it seeks to make Black Bike Week sufficiently unpleasant for the mostly African-American motorcyclists that they stop attending and the event ceases to exist.”
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The government policies were first challenged by the NAACP and individual Black Bike Week attendees in 2003, according to the lawsuit. “The plaintiffs, in that case, argued that Black Bike Week should be treated the same as Harley Week. Chief United States District Court Judge Terry Wooten found that the differences in the traffic plans between Black Bike Week and Harley Week were likely motivated by race and therefore likely unconstitutional. Chief Judge Wooten granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the City to implement similar traffic plans for the two events.”