City of Myrtle Beach to pay NAACP $50,000 in Black Bike Week settlement

Southeast Region

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The city of Myrtle Beach will pay the NAACP $50,000 and conduct traffic studies as part of a settlement over the Black Bike Week traffic plans.

The settlement, filed on Oct. 6, comes after a jury in December found the city’s traffic plans were racially motivated but that the city would’ve acted the same way even if race wasn’t a factor. The NAACP went back to the judge and asked for an injunction. All parties involved agreed to settle to avoid more costly litigation.

In addition to paying $50,000, the city will also have 90 days to begin to interview for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, according to the documents. The city will also be required to get a traffic safety expert and public safety expert to make recommendations for Black Bike Week plans.

The city will also collect data for some of the busiest summer weekends, including Black Bike Week, Harley Bike Week and Memorial Day Weekend. The city will also collect emergency response times, crowd size estimates and crime statistics, which will be presented to the consultants and the public.

“Our goal is to develop safety plans that will allow visitors and residents to enjoy themselves while also providing safeguards to ensure public safety,” City Manager Fox Simmons said in a statement.

Each party is responsible for their own attorneys’ costs.

“The City of Myrtle Beach is pleased to close this chapter in a way that demonstrates a genuine desire to improve race relations and a continuing commitment to public safety,” the city said in a statement.

The local branch of the NAACP filed a race discrimination suit alleging the city and police discriminate against African-American tourists. The group alleged Black Bike Week has been met with opposition and resistance and is treated differently than Harley Week, which is an annual event in the same area.

“The city does not implement a formal traffic plan for Harley Week and the mostly white participants are essentially able to travel around the Myrtle Beach area just as they would on any other day of the year,” the lawsuit claimed.

The city does not implement a formal traffic plan for Harley Week, for example. However, during Black Bike Week, Ocean Boulevard is usually reduced to a single lane of one-way traffic. And all motorists entering Ocean Boulevard are forced into a 23-mile loop that has just one exit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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