The NAACP will hold a press conference Thursday ahead of Bikefest. (Source: WMBF News)
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - NAACP leaders announced they will be holding a press conference on Thursday ahead of the upcoming Bikefest that begins this weekend.
Mickey James, the president of the Myrtle Beach chapter of the NAACP, stressed the first thing the group wants is for attendees to be safe.
“We want people to come in safe, drive safe, go back home alive,” he said.
James added he feels the weekend has a stigma. One of his points was violence happens year-round in Myrtle Beach. However, over the years, Memorial Day weekend and Bikefest have led businesses to close early, or not open at all.
“Some people already anticipate trouble," James said. "Some people talk up something and if something were to happen, they blame all the bikers.”
He went on to say people have been treated differently in the past.
“You don't want to have to use race as a bait, to try to make a point," James said. "But if some things are obvious and people are treated differently, then one would have to assume that it would have to be race. That may not be the issue, but that's how we feel. The city (is) going to deny it, the chamber (is) going to deny it, but it's the underlying thing that's been going on for many, many years.”
The city of Myrtle Beach has responded to those allegations already. Just two months ago, a spokesman pointed out the city and the NAACP settled a case years ago and the city was never found to be discriminatory and the terms of the settlement ended in 2010.
However, James still believes the new traffic loop isn't about safety.
“Some will agree and some will disagree, but those who have to deal and come in and have a good time - and I know it's a lot of people - but to go 23 miles in order to come back through the city is incredible," he said. "It's something that's uncharacteristic and you don't see anywhere else in this country.”
James believed the loop is sending a message that's being well received by those who get caught in it; they aren't welcome in the city.
“It's very discouraging, it's very distracting and it can make one very upset and not want to come back,” he said.
James said the press conference is to let the community know the NAACP will be watching and available for anyone who needs them throughout the weekend.
The conference is at 1 p.m., Thursday at the Sandy Grove Baptist Church, located at 1008 Carver St., in Myrtle Beach.