Gov. Nikki Haley called on the town council of Atlantic Beach Tuesday to end the small community’s annual biker festival, saying crime stemming from the rally has grown out of control.
The Atlantic Beach BikeFest is one of the state’s largest events, drawing an estimated 350,000 people to the Grand Strand each Memorial Day weekend. The sheer number of visitors to the tiny town surrounded almost entirely by North Myrtle Beach causes most bikers to spend their time in neighboring cities.
But leaders in those other towns say they have long been concerned about the rally. Their complaints have often been guarded due to the underlying racial aspects of an event known informally as “Black Bike Week.”
The issue came to a head this May after eight shootings were reported, including one that killed three people, in neighboring communities along the Grand Strand the same weekend as the bike rally. At the time, Haley joined Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes and various other Grand Strand political and business leaders to call for the event’s end.