Georgia’s Tybee Island, Black College Student, Beach Party

Georgia’s Tybee Island Working To Prevent Black College Student’s Annual Beach Party

The Mayor of Georgia's Tybee Island is hoping to shut down Orange Crush weekend.

Black college students expecting to attend the annual beach party on Georgia’s Tybee Island this weekend will be in for a rude awakening.

Residents of the area located east of Savannah have complained about the April beach party known as Orange Crush for years. Now, after more than 30 years of hosting the party, police officers and barricades will be used to close off neighborhood streets, ABC News reports.

While authorities can’t stop the partygoers from going to Georgia’s largest public beach, they will block access to nearby parking. The party, created by students at Savannah State University in 1988, has become a staple over the decades, with thousands of Black college students attending each year.

However, the 3,100 locals often complain about the loud music, leftover trash, and kids urinating in people’s yards during the festivities. Fear ignited during the 2023 event when more than 48,000 people flooded the small 3-mile island and overwhelmed local police with calls of gunfire, drug overdoses, traffic jams, and fighting. It resulted in 26 total arrests, including one armed robbery with a firearm, four counts of fighting in public, and five DUIs.

Now that Mayor Brian West is in office, he hopes the increased police activity will help do away with Orange Crush for good.

“This has to stop. We can’t have this crowd anymore,” West said. “My goal is to end it.”

However, a Black resident believes locals of the predominantly white town are only singling out events that draw large crowds of Black people and ignoring the Fourth of July and other weekends when visitors are majority white.

“Our weekends are packed with people all season, but when Orange Crush comes, they shut down the parking, bring extra police, and act like they have to take charge,” Julia Pearce, one of the island’s few Black residents and leader of the Tybee MLK Human Rights Organization said.

“They believe Black folks to be criminals.”

Mayor West says race is not a factor; the only concern is the public safety crisis Orange Crush brings to the small town. He also notes how long it’s taken city officials to take action against Orange Crush because they feared being called racist.

“To me, it has nothing to do with race,” West said. “We can’t let that be a reason to let our citizens be unsafe and so we’re not.”

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