By Paul Gable
In town for an annual Hurricane Preparedness Conference, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, referring to the Memorial Day Weekend Black Bike Festival, told the media, “It’s time for that festival to come to an end.”
Haley said the state can let the people of Atlantic Beach know “we will help them with tourism, we will help them in any way to strengthen their community, but we are not going to promote any events going forward that do any harm to the citizens of South Carolina and that’s exactly what happened…”
Haley made her comments at a press conference held after a one hour meeting with Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus and other officials from around Horry County.
Haley said South Carolinians love festivals but, “We do not want to do any sort of activities that are going to keep people from coming to visit this state, keep people from leaving their homes or keep people from feeling safe in their own neighborhoods and that’s exactly what happened and that’s exactly what has to stop.”
Haley contradicted the earlier message put out by Myrtle Beach city officials that the problems stemmed from the economy causing a lack of police officers from other jurisdictions who normally come to the city to help.
Haley said the myriad problems the city dealt with over the weekend were “not a law enforcement problem.” She noted the state sent 273 officers to Horry County over the weekend to help with policing.
“The problem was a lack of any sort of organization whatsoever,” Haley said early in her press conference.
Later Haley returned to that theme saying again it was not a law enforcement problem. “The problem was the lack of a curfew, the lack of a noise ordinance, the lack of any sort of discipline or organization, the lack of any sort of ability to control the environment.”
It was a strong statement by the governor and I don’t believe it has anything to do with campaign mode. Haley was telling Myrtle Beach city officials, Horry County officials and Atlantic Beach town officials the real problems lay at their feet for not having an organized plan in place to control events.
And she was right! I very rarely agree with the governor, her statements or her actions, but this time she is right on the mark.
Myrtle Beach especially and Horry County and Atlantic Beach to a lesser extent, were at fault for events getting out of hand over last weekend. There was no coordinated plan to control the events such as we saw 15 years ago after the Memorial Day festival exploded in attendance.
Myrtle Beach has had law enforcement problems of many types for a while now and events of last weekend became the perfect storm to highlight this.
Yes, also to blame were the people who came to the beach with no other objective than to cause mayhem. They succeeded, city officials failed. You can never stop all crime from happening, but the city, especially the south end, didn’t have to get anywhere as bad as it did.
A total lack of leadership and planning was in full view with not one word from city officials until Tuesday’s council meeting. Unacceptable and that is what Haley said.