NAACP and 25 African Americans File Race Discrimination Lawsuits Against Myrtle Beach, National Restaurants and A Regional Hotel Chain

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) along with 25 individual plaintiffs today filed two lawsuits in South Carolina alleging widespread discrimination in the city of Myrtle Beach by restaurants, a hotel, the city, county, and police during an annual event attended primarily by African Americans. The federal suits were filed on behalf of participants of "Black Bike Week" a Memorial Day Weekend rally of black motorcyclists. Also, complaints on their behalf were filed with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.

Plaintiffs claim starkly different treatment during one of two large motorcycle rallies held in the Myrtle Beach area. In mid-May thousands of predominately white riders attend the event known as "Harley Week." This followed by thousands of black motorcyclists, holding a similar rally in the city known as "Black Bike Week." The Myrtle Beach government, businesses and community leaders wholeheartedly welcome the white bikers. Yet, when the black bikers arrive, restaurants close, the hotel implements special restrictive rules and the City and police restrict travel by enforcing a one-time "zero tolerance" policy. All of these actions are designed to discourage African Americans from visiting Myrtle Beach.

Dennis Hayes, NAACP General Counsel, said: "The conduct of these public and private institutions that close down or implement one-time restrictive and oppressive rules simply because most of the visitors in Myrtle Beach over the Memorial Day Weekend are black cannot be tolerated. It is tragic and disheartening to see this type of blatant discrimination in the year 2003, nearly fifty years after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education and nearly forty years after Congress outlawed race discrimination in places of public accommodations."

Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride is one of "Black Bike Week's" most vocal critics, frequently advocating the elimination of the event, but openly supporting "Harley Week." McBride is quoted as saying that during the black bikers rally, "[he] felt uncomfortable [and] [t]here were some times when [he] felt threatened."

"The message could not be more clear to any black person in Myrtle Beach during 'Black Bike Week'

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