South Carolina Governor (R) Nikki Haley has called for an end to the annual Atlantic Beach Bikefest because of an incident over Memorial Day weekend that left three dead and seven wounded at a nearby Myrtle Beach motel.
"Eight shootings happened during this weekend," Gov. Haley told reporters last week, noted WCNC. "Three people died. That is not okay for South Carolina. This Bikefest does not represent the people of this state. It does not represent what we are trying to do when we promote tourism and jobs."
Atlantic Beach, S.C., has hosted the bike event, which is primarily attended by African-Americans, for decades.
"I'm not above talking to Grand Strand city leaders and coming together with them and making sure they handle the problem which is to make sure everybody abides by the law," said Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans. "But I'm not willing to sit down at the table with anyone and discuss canceling Bikefest."
"The $60,000 or so the town makes on Bikefest fees is a big chunk of its $500,000 annual budget. A little bit of money is a lot to us," added Mayor Evans.
Police claim that the Memorial Day weekend murders were likely gang-related.
While Gov. Haley, who is pro-gun, wants to end Bikefest, she has not called for ending the mostly white Harley-Davidson weeklong rally, which happens in May.
"This has nothing to do with what kind of motorcycle a person drives and everything to do with the fact Myrtle Beach had over 4,000 calls for police service, eight separate shootings, and three murders during the course of a Memorial Day weekend," stated Gov. Haley's spokesman Doug Mayer.
Gov. Haley recently met with local business and political leaders to discuss the Memorial Day Weekend incident in a private meeting, reports WBTW.
"It is time for that Bike Fest to come to an end, and that is the way I'm going to talk to the elected officials of Atlantic Beach," said Gov. Haley. "I think it's time for everybody in Horry County to come together to say, 'No More.' We are proud of our state. We are proud of the look of our state. We are proud of the actions of our state. We are proud of the people of our state, and the state deserves to be respected and the area deserves to be respected. It's time for this activity to stop."