ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Gov. Nikki Haley urged the Atlantic Beach Town Council on Tuesday to end the town's annual biker festival and promised to work to help transform the tiny beachfront community into a family-friendly destination that tourists from across the nation will visit.
"Please help us put an end to what we know as Bikefest," Haley urged the council in the wake of a rash of violence during this year's festival on Memorial Day weekend.
But Mayor Jake Evans, who has repeatedly said the event won't end, told reporters that "there's nothing on the table for us to get rid of Bikefest."
"If she wants to help Atlantic Beach in any other kind of way, the citizens of Atlantic Beach and me as the mayor and town council welcome that," he said, noting that the town is open to efforts to make the event safer.
Bikefest attracts tens of thousands of bikers to the small, predominantly black seaside community of about 350 year-round residents. This year, while there was no trouble in Atlantic Beach, there were eight shootings, with three deaths, in nearby communities along the Grand Strand.
"I see value in Atlantic Beach. I see opportunity in Atlantic Beach," the governor said. "But instead of talking about the people of Atlantic Beach and the pride that is associated with Atlantic Beach, we're on the front page of USA Today" with a story about the violence.
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