HBCU ‘Orange Crush’ event abandons Tybee Island for Jacksonville

Organizers of a popular-but-unauthorized Tybee Island beach celebration known as “Orange Crush,” where thousands of Black college students gathered each spring, have moved the party to Florida, citing “civil rights violations and political injustices.”
Organizers of a popular-but-unauthorized Tybee Island beach celebration known as “Orange Crush,” where thousands of Black college students gathered each spring, have moved the party to Florida, citing “civil rights violations and political injustices.”

Organizers of a popular-but-unauthorized Tybee Island beach celebration known as “Orange Crush,” where thousands of Black college students gathered each spring, have moved the party to Florida, citing “civil rights violations and political injustices.”

The event had been an annual destination for historically Black colleges and universities since the 1990s, but is now set to take place in Jacksonville Beach from June 18-20, according to reports.

The growing celebration endured several years of controversies as police made numerous arrests for heavy drinking, and drug and gun-related activities. Two shootings spoiled the celebration in 2015. Arrests were down from the 2016 celebration, but city officials appeared fed up, calling the unsanctioned event a growing threat to public safety.

A crackdown came the following year which sought to curb attendance. The Tybee Island City Council enacted bans on alcohol and loud music in 2017 and 2018, and in 2019 the promoter, George Turner, was arrested only days before the start of the event for several city ordinance violations.

Orange Crush was canceled that same year but hundreds showed up on the beach anyway, but it wasn’t anything like the revelry seen in years past, according to firsthand accounts from people who attended.

The last “official” Orange Crush was held in 2018.

Last July, in the months following the police custody death of George Floyd, the Tybee council passed a resolution to promote racial equality and social justice, but left out a clause that would have given Orange Crush legitimacy and the city’s blessing.

It now appears to have been the last straw for the Orange Crush promotion team.

“Formerly Orange Crush Tybee island has been permanently relocated due to lack of resources, limited parking, civil rights violations, and political injustices the annual beach event has been moved and has new locations and new dates,” an announcement declared on Facebook. “It is unclear if Orange Crush will ever return to TYBEE ISLAND, GA. Luckily Jacksonville FL has agreed to be the NEW HOST city for the culturally historic ORANGE CRUSH FESTIVAL brand.”

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