Tybee leader asks mayor, council to reconsider alcohol ban aimed at Orange Crush

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — A Tybee Island resident is asking the mayor and city council to reconsider an alcohol ban during Orange Crush.Julia Pearce, who is also the head of Tybee’s MLK committee, sent a letter to the mayor and council members requesting a revision of the ban. She says the ban during the two weekends in April for Orange Crush is unfair because it targets a specific group.This is the second year in a row that Tybee Island city leaders have passed the controversial alcohol ban. By a vote of five to one, City Council approved a ban on open air drinking and loud music for the weekends of April 14 and April 21 to target the weekend when thousands of beach goers go to the island for Orange Crush. Barry Brown was the only councilman to vote against it.In her letter, dated on March 5, Pearce writes:

“We feel that these rules unfairly single out this annual African-American gathering and impose restrictions that should, if they are assumed to be necessary for public safety and welfare, be imposed uniformly during the entire Spring Break season or during the entire year.We feel that Orange Crush presents no greater problems for the community and local businesses than the crowds associated with other very congested but enjoyable annual events such as the Pirate Fest, the Beach Bum parade, Independence Day, Spring Break, and others. At all of these periods bad behavior – heavy drinking, littering, law-breaking, illegal drug use, noise, etc. – occurs along with the generally wholesome recreation.Last year the City was cautioned by Edward Tarver, the US Attorney for the Southern District Court of Georgia, against singling out any particular group. He told officials that “any changes you make in response to Orange Crush … must apply to all events on the island.” (SMN June 9, 2016).The current rules adopted for the Orange Crush weekends leave the City vulnerable to lawsuits and charges of discrimination. If the similar rules imposed last year did result in less crowd-related problems for the City, then they should be imposed uniformly during Spring Break season or during the entire year. Certainly one race or ethnicity should not be perceived as needing more restrictions than another.We note that the NAACP and other plaintiffs have filed legal motions in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in response to a similar upcoming situation.See http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article202354759.htmlThat case may result in damages incurred by the City of Myrtle Beach.We certainly do not want the City of Tybee Island to face a similar case because of a poorly implemented set of rules that appears to target a particular group and which does not strike the tone of inclusiveness and brotherhood that our City is otherwise known for.”

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