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Orange Crush organizer arrested, but event continues drawing crowd

The latest volley in a yearly battle between a Georgia island town and a massive Spring Break party didn't do much to slow things down.

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. — Police dealt a blow to a major Spring Break event on Saturday, when a major organizer was arrested.

Tybee Island police arrested George Ransom Turner III late Friday evening and charged him with serious damage to personal and real property. Turner was listed in a statement from the city as an organizer for the annual "Orange Crush" event held on the island each year - albeit unofficially since no one tied to it apparently secured a permit. He also allegedly gave a fake name to arriving officers.

Police said that more than 200 people left the home upon their arrival. They added that the owner of the home had previously asked that the home be vacated. Police said Turner was actively promoting a party at the house without the homeowners' permission and charging admission.

As a result of the arrest, police told WSAV that everything organized by Turner had been canceled.  

Over the years, the beach event has become a major draw for Spring Breakers - but has also drawn the ire of the community where it's held since there's no one group or organization to hold accountable. Locals also decry traffic issues as the island, which has only one primary entrance and exit to the mainland.

And it's far from the first time the event and the city have butted heads.

The city of Tybee has taken controversial measures in the past to dissuade attendees from coming. Those included a two-week ban of alcohol and amplified music according to the Savannah Morning News. The year it was implemented, the ban corresponded with the time the event typically happened.

At the time, the paper said the town's mayor defended the move and said that it was meant to target all college-aged people. However, the Savannah Morning News also pointed out that the event predominately draws black college students and young adults.

At least one opponent of the city's actions that year likened the targeted ordinance change to Jim Crow laws.

Fast forward to the event in 2019 and thousands still show up according to WSAV-TV. And the arrest of an organizer didn't have much of an impact on Saturday night's crowds - though some admitted that they were initially concerned that it would.

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