Biker group hopes city will reconsider :: Washington Confederation of Clubs :: Wear your Patch with Pride
BY: Lorena Anderson South Carolina – Company leader proposes rally solutions Even though Myrtle Beach has taken a stand against the May motorcycle rallies, some bikers and rally supporters still hope for compromise. Hakim Harrell – chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cycle Shoe International who says he is a spokesman for the urban biker community – says he wants to help make the events work; the city says as far as it is concerned, the rallies in Myrtle Beach are over. As the Aug. 6 Coastal Alliance public forum approaches, where can the discussion go? “I’m hopeful there can still be a compromise that will make both sides happy,” said Marilyn Hatley, mayor of North Myrtle Beach and the chairwoman of the Coastal Alliance. “I think there can.” Harrell wrote to the city of Myrtle Beach saying United Bikers – a group he formed with Violet Lucas, a Georgetown County biker, and other bikers across the country – wants to work with officials. In fact, he said, he’s willing to move his family here for a year to do just that. “I will work with the city every day if need be,” Harrell said Monday. He has a 20-point plan addressing problems that have plagued the city as the rally attendees converge, including bikers forming a self-policing task force, a series of public service announcements about do’s and don’ts for rally participants in the weeks before the rallies and more. He says that’s what Mayor John Rhodes asked the biker community to do. In The Sun News’ Q&A published July 7, Rhodes said: “Let’s have the bikers come up with some solutions to the problems.” But now, Harrell says, the city doesn’t want to hear it. “Yes, as far as the City of Myrtle Beach is concerned, the bike rallies have ended,” city spokesman Mark Kruea wrote to Harrell and Lucas. “The residents and City Council said, ‘Enough is enough.'” Some see menace in portions of Harrell’s response. “It’s really a shame that we could not help with shaping the future of these events,” Harrell wrote back. “We could have been great allies. We have the power to reach over 700,000 bikers that if influenced negatively or positively, the attendance next year could be really different.” City Councilman Chuck Martino says he takes that as a threat, and also that “there is a disconnect in that they think we don’t want to talk. We have had a bike rally task force for years” to try to solve problems. Martino says task force meetings had dozens of representatives from all concerned groups, including bikers and rally organizers, and for a while were well-attended. “But everyone went in with lines drawn in the sand, and there were too many lines,” Martino said. Harrell says he wants to be part of the task force. He also says there’s no threat in what he has written, only that he’s trying to tell the city there’s no way to stop people from visiting Myrtle Beach. “They cannot put gates up, they cannot enclose the city in a dome,” Harrell said. “But we have nine months before the next rally to prepare, to send out information, to send positive messages.” The city has canceled a contract with Harrell for events he had planned for next year at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and put an end to vending within the city during May. Harrell said people don’t come for the vendors. Fewer organized activities will simply give them less to do while they are here. He anticipates more people here next year, he said, and there aren’t enough police officers in the state to accommodate 400,000 dissatisfied tourists.
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