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The 7 Worst Black Friday Horror Stories (And Why You Should Stay Away From Stores This Year)

Do you really want to be the person crossing picket lines so you can save a few bucks on a TV?
 
 
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Let me cut to the chase: You should not go shopping on Friday. Black Friday is amateur night (and morning, afternoon, and evening) – a time when shoppers work themselves into a frenzy over deals that aren’t even the best of the season.

Also, this year retailers have really crossed a line with regard to how they treat their workers. Asking employees to be ready for 5am “door busters” is crazy enough, but now some big chains have pushed back their opening time to 8pm on Thursday evening – before the Thanksgiving food coma has even set in.

Another thing slated to happen this Black Friday is a nationwide strike by many Wal-Mart employees. Employees in 12 cities have been walking off the job and picketing for the past week or so, and they’ve planned a wide range of actions for Friday. Sarah Jaffe explains why at the Guardian:

Walmart is by far the nation's largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees (the next largest is Target with 365,000), and its low wages have set the tone for a nation where the majority of jobs created in the so-called economic recovery pay less than $13.83 per hour....

Beyond the wage issue, the strikers are fighting for respect and fair treatment: the ultimatum given the company in order to prevent the Black Friday actions was not a raise, but a call to end the retaliation against workers who speak out.

Do you really want to be the person crossing these workers’ picket lines so you can save a few bucks on a TV? (By the way, you can sponsor a Wal-Mart striker here.)

In case you somehow still find yourself tempted by Black Friday’s siren song, check out these horror stories from years past. They’ll remind you why Black Friday is and has always been a huge nightmare, even in years when workers weren’t on strike and sales weren’t going on in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Wal-Mart worker trampled to death.

Perhaps the most famous, and one of the most tragic, story of Black Friday violence involves the 2008 death of Jdimytai Damour, a temporary holiday worker as a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York.

The New York Timesreported at the time that the crowd outside the store had been building since the wee hours of the morning; the cops were called in to do crowd control as early as 3:30. Just before 5, things turned ugly:

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him.

Damour was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead within the hour. Four other individuals, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were also injured in the stampede.

2. Two people shot to death in Toys R Us.

Also in 2008, two men died in a shooting at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, California.

The AP reports that the shooting occurred after two of the men’s female companions got into a fight and started punching each other. The men then drew their guns and shot at each other in the store. Reportedly the incident “wasn't related to a shopping frenzy” and the fight didn’t originate over a toy. Still, many Black Friday in the store were clearly traumatized. “I was scared," shopper Joan Barrick told the AP. "I didn't want to die today. I really didn't want to die today, and I think that's what we were all thinking."

3. One day, two armed robberies.

Last year’s Black Friday live blog from NBC News offers a glimpse into a wide range of horrors, among them not one but two armed robberies:

A 55-year-old shopper was shot and wounded during a robbery near a Walmart in Myrtle Beach, S.C., NBC station WMBF reported.

Meanwhile:

A Black Friday shopper was shot and critically injured during a robbery outside a Walmart in San Leandro, Calif., early Friday, police said.

Police patrolling the parking lot found a victim suffering a gunshot wound and a possible suspect being detained by family members of the victim.

Police said the victims were walking to their car with their purchases and were approached by multiple suspects who demanded the merchandise.

4. Pepper spray galore.

Last year we heard a lot about Occupy activists getting pepper sprayed, but did you know that Black Friday shoppers were also getting sprayed with the stuff?

In one incident, an off-duty cop who had been hired to do security at a North Carolina Wal-Mart pepper sprayed as many as 20 shoppers while “trying to make an arrest during a disturbance.”

But an even more bizarro case involves a Los Angeles shopper who pepper sprayed 20 of her fellow shoppers (including children) during a dust-up in front of a video game display. This incident happened at – you guessed it – a Wal-Mart. And somehow, the woman was able to pay for her items and leave the store without getting caught. (She later turned herself in.)

5. Shoppers walk right over man as he lay dying.

If you can believe it, this also happened last year.

According to West Virginia’s WSAZ, a man collapsed and died at a South Charleston Target while some shoppers stepped right over his dying body.

Vance was found lying in the electronics department at the Target store, in South Charleston, off Corridor G.

A witness told WSAZ.com some shoppers didn't have any concern for Vance, but there were others who did try to step in and help.

Another witness, a nurse, says she did try to help and did not see anyone being “heartless.” But if even a few shoppers walked past this man as he lay in a store aisle, that is pretty horrible.

6. Marine volunteer stabbed in the back.

On Black Friday 2010, Marine Cpl. Phillip Duggan was volunteering with Toys for Tots at a Best Buy in Augusta, Georgia, when he was stabbed in the back by a shoplifter who had been caught in the act.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that store security caught Tracey Attaway slipping a laptop into his jacket. When confronted, Attaway became “really irate,” eventually running out of the store, where he was stopped by Duggan. "(Duggan) clotheslined him, and after that he kind up got up and started swinging a knife around," Best Buy sales manager Orvin Smith told the Chronicle. Attaway ended up getting Duggan right in the back.

The injury was not life threatening, and Attaway, who it turned out had also tried to steal a whole slew of other merchandise, was charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of a knife in the commission of a crime.

7. Various groups of people fight for merchandise.

Just look at some of these videos of people fighting over merchandise on Black Friday. If this doesn’t make you want to stay away from stores on Friday, you’re officially a lost cause.

Waffle iron hysteria:

Out of control Urban Outfitters shoppers:

A mob scene at Wal-Mart (skip to the 45-second mark):

And if you’re up for it, here’s a 15-minute compilation of eye-popping Black Friday footage. As the woman at 11:20 says, “What is wrong with our society?”

Lauren Kelley is the activism and gender editor at AlterNet and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Salon, Time Out New York, the L Magazine, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter.
 
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