Myrtle Beach Officials Threaten Rally Ban

Publish Date: 
May 31, 2008

CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS in Myrtle Beach, S.C., are planning to review their options to end bike rallies in the area following a shooting over the Memorial Day holiday that is rumored to have been over the fee for a parking space.

Police have yet to confirm the details of the dispute that ended in the death of 20-year-old Corey Brooks, a Coastal Carolina University student. But Friday they arrested a 17-year-old Myrtle Beach youth in connection with the shooting.

Brooks' friends frantically told a 911 dispatcher that Tuesday that a man had pulled a gun after they told him he could not park in front of their beach house, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News. A police officer said he had stopped the suspect's car the night before.

"Why should we invest in this event when we don't in any other?" Councilman Mike Chestnut asked. "Let me tell you what's going to happen. The City Council is going to shut it down. We're not going to have a 20-year-old shot because someone is too cheap to pay for a $20 parking space."

The incident sparked complaints from residents, local clergy and even a rally organizer, according to published reports. Other groups have complained to city officials in prior years after the Atlantic Beach Bikefest biker rally and the Harley-Davidson spring rally,

"Enough is enough," the Rev. Tim McCray told the council May 27. He said he and others had not slept for the past four days during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, staying up to get a firsthand look at the parties the paper says have triggered complaints for years. "They were up there partying, doing things they shouldn't be doing."

McCray is the founder of Grand Strand Connection, an umbrella group seeking resolve "issues that threaten the harmony of Myrtle Beach" by bringing together local officials, clergy, hotel owners, restaurants and other groups that plan and hold events geared toward bikers to make the spring and fall bike rallies.

He said he witnessed public sex acts and other offenses — not among the sport bikers who converge on the area during Memorial Day weekend, but among visiting 16- to 20-year-olds who come to party.

"We don't need them," Mayor John Rhodes said. "We can fill all the hotel rooms without bike weeks." Complicating matters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has sued the city and area businesses for what it called racist behavior during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, which draws mainly African Americans. The group monitors rallies to ensure fair treatment of guests. (CONTINUED)