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NAACP files race discrimination lawsuit against City of Myrtle Beach, police

The NAACP and three others filed a race discrimination lawsuit Tuesday morning against the the City of Myrtle Beach and the city's police department over the traffic pattern in place during Bikefest.

NAACP says the traffic loop used during the festival is a form of discrimination against African-Americans.

"Time's up on discrimination in Myrtle Beach," said Anson Asaka, NAACP associate general counsel.

The complaint says the city and police department enforce no traffic pattern during Harley Week, but restrict traffic on Ocean Boulevard during Black Bike Week, according to a release.

"All citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law and have the rights of expression, assembly and association," said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in a press release. "The city's traffic plan and overly-aggressive policing tactics during Black Bike Week violates those fundamental constitutional rights. The association will continue to use the courts to fight such blatant discrimination."

The complaint also alleges that the city deploys far more police officers during Black Bike Week than Harley Week and that the police officers utilize overly aggressive policing tactics against African Americans, the release states.

Mickey James, Myrtle Beach NAACP president, said today is the beginning of a new era for hope, justice and equality in Myrtle Beach.

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Mickey James, Myrtle Beach NAACP branch president, speaks about the reasons for a lawsuit against the City of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Police during a press conference on Tuesday. The group has also filed a preliminary injunction against the "traffic loop" during the event. Feb. 27, 2018. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

The loop, created in 2015, is a 23-mile stretch of traffic funneling from Ocean Boulevard out to George Bishop Parkway and back to Ocean Boulevard. It was created after a Memorial Weekend marred with violence including a Ocean Boulevard shooting that injured eight.

Officials said the loop was created to control traffic as bikers visited the strand for Memorial Day weekend, which some call "Black Bike Week."

But opponents have long decried the creation and called it a stretch of "shame, humiliation and discrimination."

Myrtle Beach's city manager John Pedersen and police public information officer Joey Crosby said they will not comment on pending litigation.

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