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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.

Visitor Comments
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Submitted By: badboy Submitted: 6/5/2014
I seriously don't think that bikeweek should be shut down. I think you have to put a hold somehow on the thuggs that come down.I am a biker,I have been coming to Myrtle Beach for over 20 years now I have never seen nothing like this down there. I enjoy spending my money in your town but you got to get a hold on what is going on. As a 45 year old man I am a shame of all this craziness talk about black Bike Week and harley week I come down for both weeks and I do see a difference black Bike Week there is more officers.doing harley week everything is open restaurants gas stations Starbucks is open. I just think myrtle beach need to enforce laws the same for both weeks.please don't let me this year mess it up for each years to come

Submitted By: john demirjian Submitted: 6/9/2014
The black version of the bikefest should be shut down because it is the black hardcore who caused the fray not the whites. The whites seem to be more mannered than their black brothers.

Submitted By: Heidi Submitted: 6/30/2014
I lived in Myrtle Beach from 1986-2001. I have seen many bike weeks, both the Harley rally's and Bikefest. (I personally refrain from calling Bikefest "black bike week" because I think it's a divisive name that invites divisive sentiment on both sides.) Both events went on for years with no problems. In my opinion, the problems started around '98 when Atlanta started putting the dampers on the out-of-control Freaknik, and the revelers looked for another location. I remember distinctly being stuck in gridlock on Highway 17 for five hours trying to get to work, and never making it, because of the numbers of people that showed up that first memorial day weekend. When the crowds left the following Monday, the streets of our beautiful city were covered in trash and urine. All weekend, our residents had been subject to sights of revelers urinating in our streets, having sex in the back of pick-up trucks, and other such indecencies. Some would say that, since we live in a tourist town, we should have to deal with it. I say that I lived in that tourist town for 15 years, and I never saw another group of people treat our town and its residents with such blatant disrespect, or disregard. I say that no group should have the right to terrorize a town's residents for 3 days. To add insult to injury, the NAACP routinely targets business who choose to opt-out of the memorial day weekend nightmare. I have friends who own a small pizza shop right off the strip downtown. For three years straight they lost money that weekend because there were so many eat and runs - and the cops were so overwhelmed they couldn't do anything about it. It's commonplace during that weekend. They decided to close their doors on memorial day weekend. Not because they are racist, but because people were stealing from their business in droves and the police were unable to protect them. In return, they got bricks through their windows and a suit from the NAACP. People say the city needs to enforce the laws - and I agree. However, the city has more officers on duty during memorial day weekend than they do during harley week, and it's still not enough to keep the peace. How much does the city need to spend in extra police and clean up so that this event can continue? And there are these extra officers going to come from? If we have to call for help from the National Guard because we don't have enough officers to enforce the law, we get bad press for that too. In my opinion, the good bikers who have attended the Atlantic Beach rally for so many years without incident should be furious that there is a group who is wreaking such havoc on the city that has supported them. The NAACP should be loathe to sue businesses for protecting themselves against theft. Instead, they should be calling out these young black men and women for their behavior, and for acting in a manner that perpetuates the tensions that the NAACP (claims) to be fighting against. I agree that everyone should have the right to enjoy the beach, regardless of the color of their skin. But I also think that no one, regardless of the color of their skin, has the right to break the laws of the city that they visit and terrorize it's businesses and residents. This isn't a skin color issue. Laws apply to everyone, black and white.

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