NAACP returns to monitor rally in Atlantic Beach

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have returned to the Grand Strand to monitor the Atlantic Beach Bike Rally.

Their effort is called "Operation Bike Week Justice," and 2010 is the sixth year the organization has taken an active look at the rally.

Representatives from the NAACP announced their plans at Myrtle Beach City Hall Thursday. They said they will be watching for unequal treatment of black bikers compared to bikers during the Harley Davidson Rally.

"More changes must be made here at Myrtle Beach," Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, the Vice President of Stakeholder Relations for the national office of the NAACP said. "We need to be clear. We are trying to be sure people are treated the same."

Rivers said dozens of businesses once closed during the rally to avoid doing business with the bikers. He also said compared to the Harley rally, different traffic enforcement was used and more people were arrested during the Atlantic Beach rally. He said although there have been improvements, the NAACP still believes inequalities exist.

Members of the North Carolina United Bikers Association came to support the NAACP's efforts.

"We want to come down here to be sure we're adhering to the law, but we want to have a good time as well, and we also don't want to be harassed for just having a good time," James Lancaster said.

Rivers said the NAACP did not notice increased police enforcement in Myrtle Beach during this year's Harley rally, so he expects the same for this rally.

The city spokesperson Mark Kruea said there was no increased police presence because the city did not have an official rally.

"There was no Harley Davidson spring rally in the city two weeks ago," Kruea said. "There was no rally to enforce."

Kruea said he has a similar expectation this weekend and any extra police will be on hand for the Memorial Day parade and similar activities.

"It's a big holiday weekend," Kruea said. "We're going to be prepared, but we're really not expecting a motorcycle rally here."

Rivers said he would actually like African American tourists to avoid South Carolina because of the controversy about the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol.

"We don't want the bikers here, either group because we have a boycott against tourism in South Carolina," Rivers said. "So our preference is the black bikers and the Harley bikers wouldn't come, but when you come in South Carolina, we insist that everyone be treated equally and fairly, and if that doesn't happen the NAACP must respond."

Rivers said if the NAACP members continue to see things they believe are racial inequalities, they may take stronger action. He said those actions could include protests in Myrtle Beach.

"If this does not end this year then we have to consider additional steps to take to enforce the equal protection under the law," Rivers said.

The NAACP has also set up a complaint hotline that can be reached by calling (888) 362-8683. There's also a complaint center at Sandy Grove Baptist Church on Carver Street.

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