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Police Discriminate Against African-Americans During Annual Bike Week, NAACP Lawsuit Alleges

The NAACP and three others are suing the city of Myrtle Beach and the local police department over what they see as a problematic traffic pattern enforced by police during the annual Bikefest.

The suit, filed Tuesday, argued that the traffic loop used during the bike festival is a form of racial discrimination against Blacks, Myrtle Beach Online reported. The plaintiffs accuse the city and police department of enforcing no special traffic pattern during Harley Week but move to restrict traffic on Ocean Boulevard during Black Bike Week.

“All citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law and have the rights of expression, assembly and association,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “The city’s traffic plan and overly-aggressive policing tactics during Black Bike Week violates those fundamental constitutional rights. The association will continue to use the courts to fight such blatant discrimination.”

Moreover, the complaint alleges that the department deploys far more officers for Black Bike Week compared to Harley Week and that officers use more aggressive police tactics against African-Americans, according to a news release.

The loop, a 23-mile roadway stretching from Ocean Boulevard out to George Bishop Parkway, was created in 2015 a means of controlling traffic as bikers visited the area for Memorial Day weekend, also known as Black Bike Week. What was supposed to be a celebratory weekend was marred by violence, according to the paper, including a shooting on Ocean Boulevard that injured eight people.

For some, the loop is a bitter reminder of “shame, humiliation and discrimination.” The NAACP is now seeking an injunction to stop the loop from being used this year,  the Post and Courier reported.

“Time’s up on discrimination in Myrtle Beach,” Anson Asaka, NAACP associate general counsel, said this week.

Myrtle Beach’s city manager and police public information officer have declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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