|Black Bikers Week: Shut It Down
6/4/2014 3:09:42 PM
By Beverly Gadson-Birch
Sometimes I get hold of one of those stories in my head that I just can’t turn loose. Black bikers hanging out on Atlantic Beach during Memorial Day weekend are nothing new.
According to Wikipedia, Black Bikers Week was founded in Atlantic Beach by the Flaming Knight Riders motorcycle club in 1980. Early rallies drew about 100 participants.
The Knights worked with the town’s mayor to create an event that would make money for the beach.
While the plan was well intentioned to help out the predominately black financially strapped beach, the event was not franchised and soon the bikers started drifting up to Myrtle Beach.
Atlantic Beach has struggled to survive segregation. I have many fond memories of Atlantic Beach. As a child, I remember my dad loading us up in the car for a day at the beach.
It was the only time we could go into the water under the watchful eye of our parents.
Each year the Black Bikers Rally has grown disproportionately for the area and by 1990 the event had moved into Myrtle Beach drawing crowds upward of 300,000 and at times upward of 400,000.
Those numbers are sure to draw some misfits and misadventures. However, what happened Memorial Day weekend points to a need for more even handed control.
Although, I have spoken with several bikers and they say the disturbance was not of their making, it was the worst violence in the history of the Bike Fest.
It appears that some junior flips with nothing more constructive to do with their time, decided to terrorize beachgoers and turn the event into a deadly bloodbath that reverberated around the country.
While it is not a good thing to associate the majority good bikers who come for the camaraderie and to show off their bikes with the tragedies, the old folks would say “the good have to suffer with the bad.”
Gang related killings on the beach during the Memorial Day Weekend are giving bikers a bad name. And, it’s bad for Myrtle Beach and the state.
Several of my brothers are bike enthusiasts. The escalated violence and tragedies during bikers’ week have left a bad taste in their mouths and they have vowed off attending future rallies.
There has been much to do about the disparity in how white bikers and black bikers’ events are handled.
A couple years ago while in Myrtle Beach during Memorial Day weekend, I experienced firsthand misplaced treatment while attempting to make a purchase at a convenience store.
I did not have a problem purchasing gas but when I attempted to enter the store to make a purchase I was told the store was closed.
There was no way I could have been mistaken as being a part of the Black Bikers crowd. I didn’t fit the M.O. I was fully clothed; nothing was hanging out and I was wearing bifocals.
Many of the stores elected to close during Black Bikers’ Week but remained opened to the White Harley Davidson Bikers who hold their rally two weeks in advance of the Black Bikers’ Memorial Day Rally.
As Myrtle Beach’s mayor ponders over what to do about the Black Biker’s Fest, I say “Shut It Down” but be fair and consistent in dealing with all gatherings.
While blame is being placed on the bikers and those who flock to the beach to be a part of the action, blame can also be laid at the feet of town officials who fail to enforce the law.
There is so much lascivious behavior, drinking and drugs going on during the week, but not all associated with the bikers, that the town needs to put a halt to. The mayor needs to send out a strong message to anyone thinking about breaking the law.
The Black Bikers Week attracts bikers from every walk of life and from almost every state—some good and some bad. My decision to “shut it down” comes after being introduced to “Hood TV”. The title says it all.
After viewing just a tidbit of what goes on during Black Bikers Week, I saw enough to say “Shut the Bikers Rally Down”. Many of the violators may not be bikers but violence is one rise during Bikers Week.
There is just no way officers can write citations for the numerous violations and not enough jails to hold the violators. So, the town must make a decision to either strictly enforce the law or shut the event down.
While folks have a right to enjoy the beach, when it comes to murder I draw the line.