By Paul Gable
Two Ordinances aimed at the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and passed first reading by Myrtle Beach City Council appear acts of desperation.
Called the extraordinary events and public peace act ordinances, they could be lumped together under the title “Gall Doctrine” after Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall.
Why acts of desperation?
Randy Webster, Director of Horry County Emergency Management, was quoted in local media as calling Atlantic Beach Bikefest an uncontrollable event. Webster went on to say with all the planning that has gone into Bikefest “it’s still uncontrollable.”
With Myrtle Beach as the epicenter for the crowds that come to Bikefest and with planners calling the event uncontrollable, passing what amounts to de facto martial law ordinances was the answer from Myrtle Beach City Council.
Or are there ulterior motives?
The extraordinary events ordinance specifically designates Atlantic Beach Bikefest as an extraordinary event automatically invoking the many prohibitions in the ordinance.
The vast majority of Bikefest attendees over Memorial Day Weekend are tourists at the beach, not armed gangs looking to cause general mayhem.
But, according to the ordinance, these tourists will not be allowed to have backpacks, coolers and glass bottles at the beach.
The public peace act, which defines a riot as consisting of three or more persons together, is written broadly enough to include Ferguson, Missouri type protests as riots. It applies to both public and private property. Therefore a protest on private property could be ordered to disperse if the police don’t like what is being said.
And, with three or more persons acting together considered a riot, the ordinance is reminiscent of the infamous Black Codes of 150 years ago.
When the Black Codes were passed, one South Carolina planter said it would take a paramilitary force to enforce them.
Is it really that much different today with armored vehicles, automatic weapons, drones, riot shields and other gear part of the police preparations to enforce the Gall Doctrine?
The Myrtle Beach one-cent tourism tax provides approximately $26 million in revenue to be spent on advertising for tourism.
Yet, the clear message for the tourists who come to Myrtle Beach on Memorial Day Weekend is “we don’t want you here.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.