By Paul E. Gable
Regardless, congratulations are in order to my former hometown’s elected and tourism officials. You managed to get yourselves some national headlines over the weekend, but for all the wrong reasons.
You honestly cannot be surprised can you?
I mean, after all, there were how many shootings again in our “quiet, little sleepy tourist town?”
There’s been how many women who have gone missing in recent months?
There’s been how many guns pulled on people at various establishments?
And, before we go any further, let’s clear up a few potential misconceptions.
This has nothing to do with black bike week, Harley bike week, black people, white people or gun issues.
Instead, what this is simply this — there is a lack of respect for life and fellow man, as well as Myrtle Beach’s elected and tourist officials kicking the can down the road and refusing to get serious about a very serious matter and that is public safety.
While I haven’t lived in Myrtle Beach for over a decade, I have seen the headlines daily — “man robbed at Broadway at the Beach…,” “police looking for missing women…,” “shooting rocks Ocean Boulevard…,” and my favorite, “man reports robbery while walking.”
Do you know what the common denominator in all those headlines was?
There were no blacks on bikes or whites on Harleys at the crime scene.
I’ve been some to some major national and international events during my time as a journalist. I’ve covered a Super Bowl and the Indianapolis 500 four times now. I’ve seen a heavy police presence much like we see in Atlantic Beach during Memorial Day weekend, and I know this to be true — when you have that many officers and crime is still taking place, you have some serious issues that MUST be addressed.
The bottom line is this — crime has happened before bike weeks and it will continue well after those who visit Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach have packed up and left.
We don’t have a bike week issue, we have a public safety issue.
We don’t need to “Take Back May.” We need to take back our community.
We need to hold our elected officials and tourism officials’ feet to the fire and force the issue at hand, which, again, is public safety.
There is absolutely no reason to reach out to the Governor’s office about this. While I found it cute that the same people who yelled at former mayor Mark McBride for doing the same thing in the 1990’s are now the ones at the forefront of the rallying cry, I have a serious question — do you really think the residents of Charleston, Orangeburg or Columbia call the Governor’s office about crime?
And, I’ve seen it all over social media sites that the Governor needs to give more “resources” to help with the issue.
The last time I checked, local officials dictated how much money went to public safety.
Mayor John Rhodes, the time is now, to show people why you were re-elected and that you are serious about public safety.
While banning beach tents is important, and shoveling more money to useless projects seem to be the norm, how about we spend a little more money into putting police on the streets and addressing the real issue with is this — for 365 days a year, Myrtle Beach has a serious crime issue.
How about we use a little of the money from the Chamber of Commerce to promote safety in our streets?
In 2012, Rhodes made the following comment when citizens asked officials to get serious on efforts to stem violence, “There’s only so much we can do, so when it comes to a collaborative effort, I think we are doing all we can to try and solve these problems. And we need the citizens to step up and tell us what they see and what they hear.”
I recall reading an article in February that said Rhodes’ salary increased by more than double. It would have been nice if the part-time mayor took some of that money and dedicated it to public safety.
He had the nerve to say the demand of his time is “sky-rocketing.”
Well, that may be. I am sure there are a lot of dinners and social events at the Dunes Club and Grande Dunes that take place, but the amount of crime and blood flowing in the streets is “sky-rocketing.”
Guess, we know what really is important.
For further information on some of the shootings and to see what Ocean Blvd. was really like over Memorial Day weekend, I highly recommend you check out this link:
(Ed. Note: Paul E. Gable is a former Horry County resident who lived in Myrtle Beach (1983-93) and Loris (1993-2004). He graduated from Newberry College with a major in Journalism in 2004 and has since moved on to the Midwest where he is currently Editor of the Shelbyville News, Shelbyville, Indiana.)