Violence in America: Comparing Black Friday to the Occupy Movement


Last week marked one of the most hectic days of the year. Forget Thanksgiving; Black Friday was upon us. The busiest shopping day of the whole year, Black Friday 2011 broke new records; many stores opened at midnight following Thanksgiving, instead of 4am like they have in the past. Many deals started on the Thursday before and lasted until the Sunday after Thanksgiving, bringing in a record breaking $52.4 billion total, $11.4 billion alone on Black Friday itself.

Target is a popular Black Friday destination | Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons user Zol87

Major retail chains like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy thrive on this day to help boost sales and to give out great deals just in time for the Holiday season. However, total spending isn’t the only thing that increases every year on Black Friday. Not only are consumers spending tons of money, but many will do anything to get the deal they’re looking for – no matter the physical cost.

Record breaking injuries plague Black Friday each year, with violence increasing year after year. Bargaining comes at a price. Fellow shoppers will go to any lengths to secure the items they have their eyes on. This year, one woman at a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles pepper sprayed nearly two dozen people to get her hands on a marked down Xbox. Shots were fired during the early hours of Friday at a mall in North Carolina, but luckily none were injured.

Worst of all, shoppers not only feel the wrath of others after the same deals – police are another danger. A 54-year-old grandfather was slammed to the ground by police and trampled inside an Arizona Wal-Mart when they suspected him of shoplifting, leaving him bleeding heavily from his face. He claimed he was trying to rush forward to protect his 8-year-old grandson from being trampled by incoming shoppers. Numerous other injuries and acts of violence were reported throughout the long weekend as people literally fought for bargains.

Wal-Mart is another popular spot to shop to snag great deals | Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons user Zol87

So what does this say about our way of life? Black Friday is hyped up so much as day to look forward to by the media. After a holiday of giving thanks, we truly see what is important to people on this day. Is a discounted video game console really worth seriously injuring tons of innocent people surrounding you?

This year saw an increase in violence against the innocent, with major headlining incidents such as UC Davis campus police officers pepper spraying innocent, seated Occupy protesters on campus point-blank. Lots of the Occupy protests and coverage are viewed and dealt with harshly by law enforcement, yet it’s nearly expected that you could get trampled on Black Friday at your local Wal-Mart.

Occupy protestors are being prosecuted. Their slogan is, “we are the 99%.” They stand up, protesting against social and economic inequality, greed, corrupt corporations, and high unemployment rates in this country. What leads to innocent people getting pepper sprayed, shot, and trampled trying to buy holiday gifts? Greed. Just what Occupy protesters are trying to stand up against.

Occupy Wall Street
Just one of the various signs seen during the Occupy protests | Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons user david_shankbone

So why is it that Occupy protesters are injured without an apparent cause, blamed and disliked while those throwing punches at mothers and daughters at Victoria’s secret to get yoga pants on sale is acceptable? On the other side, if Occupy protesters are so against greed, is it really just the 1% who were seen at midnight on Black Friday rushing into their local Walmart, doing whatever it took to get the best deal on a Playstation 3, or a new toaster oven? No. That is not just the 1%. That is everyone, including the 99%. The amount of greed that drives people on Black Friday is out of hand. Want to protest something? Protest that.

About Aria Ruggiero

Aria is a Junior in CAS studying Psychology. She enjoys writing and photographing for the Quad, as well as having an unhealthy obsession with guacamole, blazers, and the Yankees.

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