Three years after a more restrictive 23-mile traffic loop was imposed, the NAACP has sued the City of Myrtle Beach and its police department, alleging discrimination. But it's not the first time the organization has sued the city.
"We've been here before, but mostly importantly, we've known this tactic has been used before," said Dorian Spence, director of Special Litigation, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "And we've defeated this tactic before."
In 2003, the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit against Myrtle Beach after the city imposed a one-way traffic plan that required traffic to travel southbound on Ocean Boulevard for about five miles during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, also called Black Bike Week, according to court documents. Exits off of the five-mile stretch were restricted. The traffic pattern only was used during the annual event, which happens on Memorial Day weekend.
During that time, the city didn't have a similar pattern during Harley Week, but allowed traffic to flow two ways along Ocean Boulevard.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction and found that the NAACP showed that Harley week and the Atlantic Beach week were treated differently. The city appealed, and a year later reached a settlement, agreeing on a five-year traffic plan, from 29th Avenue North to 17th Avenue South during the hours of 2 p.m. to midnight, that would be the same for both bike weeks, court documents state. The agreement expired in 2010.
The 23-mile traffic loop began in 2015. It starts at 29th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard, moving south on the boulevard to Kings Highway near the Myrtle Beach airport, then up Harrelson Boulevard to U.S. 501, onto northbound U.S. 31, down southbound George Bishop Parkway, onto 29th Avenue North, and back onto Ocean Boulevard.