Singling Out Atlantic Beach Bikefest Crowds

By Paul Gable

We are being told by local officials that plans are ready for the crowds attending Atlantic Beach Bikefest over Memorial Day weekend.

You can see headlines like – “Hundreds of officers, thousands of barricades…to fill the streets.” And verbiage about the traffic loop, increased police presence, new restrictive laws and new equipment and technology all for Memorial Day weekend.

All this money, planning and effort wouldn’t have stopped the killings that made national headlines last year nor will they stop two gangs coming up here from the Charleston area and using Ocean Boulevard as a shooting gallery if they wish to this year.

Most of the people who come to the Myrtle Beach area for Atlantic Beach Bikefest are here to have a good time.

Instead they will be met with a militarized police presence, new restrictive rules and regulations, restricted traffic patterns and a general atmosphere of we don’t want you here.

Horry County Emergency Management director Randy Webster said Memorial Day weekend is a holiday weekend, lots of people will be here and there will be lots of congestion.

Frankly, I don’t see how that differs from Easter, Fourth of July, Labor Day or virtually any other summer weekend, but we don’t make the same plans for those weekends.

One Carolina Shores resident made the most sensible comment that I have seen in local media when he said he wishes local law enforcement would spend as much time, money and energy working to get control of crime year-around.

I do too. All you have to do is read the local police blotters to see murders, armed robberies, home invasions and other violent crimes are regular activities in Myrtle Beach and Horry County.

Violent crimes in this area are not limited to Memorial Day weekend, so why does all the police planning go into this one weekend?

Atlantic Beach Bikefest has been ruled an “extraordinary event” by ordinance of the City of Myrtle Beach. We are told extra planning and restrictions are needed to keep our local residents and tourists safe over Memorial Day weekend.

The Carolina Shores resident referred to above said he sees a racial bias and prejudice in the comments expressed by local citizens about Memorial Day weekend crowds.

I agree. All the concentration goes to Memorial Day weekend while the violent crimes are happening all year.

We need better policing year-around. Not harsher, more restrictive or more militarized policing, but better policing.

That’s the challenge our local law enforcement agencies have and one they have ignored, in my opinion, deflecting the focus to the Atlantic Beach Bikefest weekend only.

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