By Paul Gable
A glimmer of hope made its way into the Myrtle Beach City Council deliberations on ordinances aimed at Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
At its regular meeting Tuesday, Myrtle Beach City Council tabled an ordinance specifically defining riots as three or more persons acting together.
Additionally, Myrtle Beach City Council amended its extraordinary event ordinance, before passing second reading, to eliminate some of the more ridiculous restrictions previously contained in the ordinance.
Now, over Memorial Day weekend, you can walk your dog or carry a cooler without worry of being arrested.
Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pederson recommended the amendment to council. Pederson said the city was sending the wrong message unintentionally with the original draft of the extraordinary events ordinance.
According to local media reports, Pederson went on to say the city is prepared to welcome visitors and encourage them to have fun and obey the law. He said the city has other tools to deal with problems if they arise.
What Myrtle Beach City Council forgot in passing first reading of both ordinances is perception is reality in politics.
The perception was certainly “we” vs. “they” as the extraordinary event ordinance was originally drafted and there was no need to attempt to codify a riot in such an extreme manner.
But, Atlantic Beach Bikefest is still specifically designated an extraordinary event by resolution of Myrtle Beach City Council. We will still have an enforced traffic pattern, barricades along Ocean Boulevard and other places, armored vehicles, drones and a significantly increased police presence complete with automatic weapons and riot gear.
So, we have moved at best minimally from the perception of martial law on the streets.
The changes in the extraordinary event ordinance are a small first step toward reality. We must now wait to see how city officials and law enforcement personnel respond to real (or imagined) problems if they occur.