FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Folly Beach City Council unanimously approved an immediate 60-day ban barring alcohol from the beach after many residents voiced their frustration during a public special session on Tuesday night.
A packed house gave a standing ovation in support of the council's decision, following last week's raucous 4th of July celebration and ensuing melee.
Twenty people spoke at the public special meeting, using their one-minute of time to rally for or against a possible ban. One man referenced the packed meeting room saying, "this is what the beach looks like, except everyone has a bottle in their hands."
Another resident said Folly Beach has a bad reputation, and that enough is enough, calling for an emergency resolution tonight. Folly Beach Councilman Eddie Ellis said he was in the 10th Street area on the 4th of July and he "feared for his safety."
After the public gave their comments, a workshop began around 6 p.m. to discuss three different options on alcohol consumption on the beach.
Folly Beach officials says it all started with a fight that was caught on tape on July 4.
Police say the block of beach on 10th street was overtaken by hundreds of people drinking with things getting out of hand.
Folly Beach Safety Police Chief Dennis Brown told the crowd at tonight's meeting that he got to the beach around 2 p.m. to tell the group to turn off their music and get off the beach. Shortly after an officer was punched, Brown said.
Eight people were arrested following the drunken fight which injured four police officers and a deputy. One deputy is currently out of work after he suffered a shattered knee cap and hand during the brawl, said Chief Brown.
Although alcohol played a role in last week's brawl, Chief Brown acknowledged that banning alcohol could be hard not only on the people of Folly, but also the officers.
He said that if alcohol was banned and officers received a complaint of alcohol on the beach, they would have to respond, stretching the force thin.
Other beaches along Charleston County's coast like the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island have already prohibited alcohol at the water's edge.
If caught with alcohol or acting out of control, Isle of Palms Police say breaking the law is punishable with a fine and ticket anywhere between $100 and $1100.
Brittany Simpson, who frequents IOP's beaches, says reaching some middle ground at tonight's City Council meeting may be the best thing for Folly Beach.
"Everyone likes to enjoy a beer here and there but because it's prohibited here I think that people stay more within their limits," said Simpson. "But on Folly since it's totally OK, people go overboard."
Although many agree with Simpson's view, other's still aren't ready to toss the taps from the sands of Folly.
We asked viewers on our facebook page if they think a ban is necessary and answers were mixed.
Cheryl says, "It should be banned. These same people drinking are driving home from the beach."
William disagrees. He says, "People are going to drink at the beach, period. Why make 95% of them 'criminals' because 5% can't handle their behavior after alcohol intake?"
Right now, drinking from glass bottles is the only restriction on Folly Beach. Edisto Beach is the only other beach on South Carolina's coast to adopt similar laws.