The greater Myrtle Beach, South Carolina metropolitan area remains under siege this morning. For purposes of the annual May siege, authorities define the greater Myrtle Beach metropolitan area to encompasses a 75-mile-long stretch of coast that extends from Shallotte, North Carolina to Georgetown, South Carolina and about as far inland as Conway, South Carolina which is about 15 miles from the Atlantic.
What is happening right now in the Palmetto State is something called “Spring Bike Week” or the “Spring Harley-Davidson Rally.” They might actually be two different things. Nobody knows for sure.
Whatever is happening is the bastard ghost of a rally that began in 1940 and ended in 2008 after the City of Myrtle Beach passed a big, old briefcase full of laws that declared motorcycle rallies to be public nuisances and motorcycle riders to be nothing better than Yankee vermin. The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned the laws in 2010 on the grounds that South Carolina was not North Korea and various entrepreneurs have been trying to bring back that old biker money ever since.
Money is the better part of what is going on in South Carolina. Most of the state’s media reported that last Saturday morning a man walked into the Huddle House Restaurant in Mullins, South Carolina “and ordered several breakfast items to-go saying he wanted to treat friends to a breakfast before they head down to Myrtle Beach for Bike Week.” Then he left a $9,000 tip. Now, that’s one of your good Yankee vermin.
Meanwhile police throughout Horry County have assumed their annual “rally duties,” which means lots of overtime and lots of traffic tickets to pay for all that overtime. To the end of confusing bikers into violating something the city has put up very many “no through traffic” signs. Officially the signs are up to protect residents “as much as possible – from unnecessary motorcycle noise and traffic.” The combined police forces of Horry County, Myrtle Beach, Conway and Coastal Carolina University have agreed to coordinated their law enforcers. A local prosecutors named Jimmy Richardson announced last week “There will be an increased police presence. But it will be denser as you get toward Myrtle Beach. But that is a way of showing everybody that is coming in that there are plenty of law enforcement here.”
The good news is that there are still plenty of vacant hotel rooms between Shallotte, North Carolina and Georgetown, South Carolina. But, as Jimmy Richardson might say. But this is merely a prologue to the fearsome black storm that is to come.
The city is in the process of installing a million dollars worth of barricades and bicycle racks in anticipation of The Atlantic Beach Bikefest or, as it is commonly called, Black Bike Week.
This has been kind of a rough year for race relations in America. It has been a particularly rough year for relations between young black men and the police.
Last year Myrtle Beach police got 4,000 calls for service and there were 105 arrests, five confirmed shootings, three murders and seven people were injured during Black Bike Week. Last year, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said, “The issue is not race. The issue is responsibility. Visitors must act responsibly by following our laws, and our local governments must act responsibly in providing adequate protection to both residents and visitors.”
This year the issue is more overtly about race. Five days ago, a local television anchor named Jack Lamson wrote, “With the images from Baltimore fresh in everyone’s minds, the panel (of police) was also asked about…plans to handle rioting.”
Myrtle Beach intends to prevent rioting in that fine city with proactive policing and a 23-mile-long detour around the city during Black Bike Week. This week the cops are practicing their skills on the Harley riders.