Local News

Sanford minister alleges racial profiling in Myrtle Beach noise arrest

Posted August 6, 2020 7:39 p.m. EDT

— A Sanford minister says he was racially profiled and arrested in Myrtle Beach for playing music too loud on his golf cart.

Rev. Bennie Bryant Jr., pastor of Cornerstone Christian Empowerment Center, said he went to South Carolina last weekend to secure his beach house ahead of Hurricane Isaias and ended up in jail.

Bryant said he was riding his golf cart near 3rd Avenue and Ocean Boulevard when he was stopped by a Myrtle Beach police officer.

"An officer jumped out in my pathway and pointed at me and told me to turn my music down. At that time, I turned my music down," he said Thursday. "Everyone that know me complains that I can't hear."

He said he continued down Ocean Boulevard, but it was congested. So, he turned around to go home and again passed the officer who complained about his music. This time, the officer made him pull over.

"He walked up to me, and in a high tone told me, 'I told you to turn your music down. Put your hand out. You're under arrest,'" Bryant said.

Myrtle Beach police declined to comment about the incident, saying it's under investigation. But they sent an account of what the arresting officer said happened.

"Officers on another traffic stop warned Mr. Bryant to turn his music down as he drove by. Less than 10 minutes later, he came back by the officers with loud music again and was arrested," the statement said.

Myrtle Beach's noise ordinance is 15 pages of rules that cover what decibel levels coming from homes and businesses are considered to be in violation. But it's up to an officer's discretion to determine if music coming from a vehicle violates the ordinance.

Bryant said he was handcuffed, placed in the back of a patrol wagon with six other people and taken to the police station. There, a mugshot was taken, his golf cart was impounded and he was held in jail for six hours before being allowed to post a $100 bond. He also had to pay $160 to get his golf cart out of the impound lot.

"I think I was singled out because I am Black," he said. "I can't think of any other reason why I was arrested for a simple infraction."

He said he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said he will look into Bryant's allegations.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.