By Paul Gable
It seems the City of Myrtle Beach is well on its way to discouraging future participation in the Atlantic Beach Bikefest over Memorial Day weekend.
A reduction in the size of the crowd may not be noticeable this year, but with the use of some of the city’s new toys, the message will be sent back – we don’t really want you here.
Local media has reported what has been termed hi-tech additions to equipment available to police since last year, as well as the 23-mile traffic loop and one way chute down Ocean Boulevard.
The latter two are designed to keep those walking on Ocean Boulevard separated from those on bikes.
Armored Humvees, body armor, assault rifles, riot control shields and helmets are teamed with a long range acoustical device (LRAD), drones and a host of new video recording cameras to make oversight and control of Atlantic Beach Bikefest crowds considerably greater this year.
Somehow I can’t help but think of the LRAD as this generation’s equivalent of the police dogs and fire hoses of 50 years ago.
Regardless of the interpretation, the numbers and militarization of the police forces on duty during Memorial Day weekend will be obvious.
We are hearing of other uses for some of this equipment such as drones used to find missing swimmers and the LRAD for public disaster and evacuation warnings.
I’m not sure what the other uses of the armored vehicles, assault rifles and riot control gear are, but one never knows.
But, all of this is secondary to the message that the city apparently wants to be sent to Atlantic Beach Bikefest attendees – don’t bother to come back.
Myrtle Beach likes tourists, just not all of them.