Officer: Governor's staff ordered police to remove Democratic operative from Atlantic Beach meeting

Haley met with town leaders to discuss Bikefest. | Source: WMBF News
Haley met with town leaders to discuss Bikefest. | Source: WMBF News

ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As Gov. Nikki Haley wrapped up her meeting with the Atlantic Beach Town Council Tuesday morning, town police quietly escorted a young woman from the building.

It turns out she works for the South Carolina Democratic Party and her removal was ordered by the governor's staff, according to the police officer who escorted her from the meeting.

Kate Sarna was filming the proceedings when she was told by town police officers to leave the Atlantic Beach Community Center.

Outside, Sarna questioned why she was told to leave the building, asking if she had been causing a disturbance or creating a problem.

Atlantic Beach Police Sgt. John Jackson said her behavior was not a problem but he was just following orders.

Sarna said she had been told by SLED that it was OK to attend any meeting in a public place.

"SLED didn't tell us," Jackson responded. "We were told by the governor's people to remove you."

A spokesperson for the governor said prior to the meeting that the governor never intended to go into executive session and wanted to keep her remarks open to the public.

With the governor not joining the council, Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans had the agenda amended to remove the executive session and allowed the governor to address the council.

When she finished speaking, Haley told the council she was ready for a frank discussion with them but she was met with silence.

Following the recent Memorial Day events that saw three murders, at least seven shootings and a variety of other crimes in Myrtle Beach, Haley said she would tell Atlantic Beach, "no more BikeFest."

At that time, Evans said the crime issues didn't occur in his town and Atlantic Beach had no plans to end the event.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Evans repeated his stance, saying he would welcome any help from the state any other time of the year but the possibility of ending BikeFest "is off the table."

When Haley first addressed the issue in June, she said the problem was not a law enforcement issue and the state had no intention of sending more police officers in the future.

This year, the state sent 273 officers to the event, with the majority of them being deployed in Atlantic Beach.

But Tuesday morning, Haley changed her tune when asked what the state would do to help Myrtle Beach stem the problems with the Memorial Day crowds and crime, regardless of Atlantic Beach's decision to cooperate or not.

"We'll have to send more law enforcement," she said. contributed to this article. You can find its story, here.
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