Holiday Looks Different After 'Black Friday Stampede'
The fallout from the Black Friday death of a Long Island Wal-Mart employee, who was literally trampled as shoppers rushed into the store, has placed a new spin on the annual holiday shopping season.
The "Black Friday stampede" at the Wal-Mart store, in which an estimated 2,000 people made a beeline for the doors at 5 a.m. to grab holiday deals, resulted in the death of Jdimytai Damour, 34, of Jamaica.
The temporary security worker died of asphyxiation, police said. No one has been charged in connection with Damour's death, though police are investigating possible criminal charges (Newsday reports that it's unlikely anyone will be charged in the crime).
One of Damour's sisters has already filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Wal-Mart in state Supreme Court in the Bronx, claiming the company's ads offering deep discounts "created an atmosphere of competition and anxiety" that led to "crowd craze," The Associated Press reports.
The lawsuit also alleges Wal-Mart failed to provide adequate security at the store. Authorities suspect the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Damour was placed at the front because of his linebacker-type size.
Lawmakers are already throwing around ideas for "doorbuster" crowd-control laws in New York. A no-cutting-in-line conflict between two large groups of shoppers also helped to spark the 5 a.m. rush to the doors, police told Newsday.
Reaction, and condemnation, have been in no short supply since Damour's death.
"There's no question the people in that New York crowd lost their humanity in the quest for a bargain," The Post's Michelle Singletary opined in her personal finance column.
"What happened after that man died says even more about our culture and corporate greed," referring to television news reports quoting some Wal-Mart employees saying they heard customers complaining they were being forced out of the store.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune said the incident had turned holiday shopping into "a blood sport -- a shameful, sickening milestone for American culture that must not happen again."
The Chicago Tribune's Kayce T. Ataiyero, writing for her "Consumerland" column, said retailers need to provide better security and crowd control at such events. "But consumers also need to be held accountable for fostering a culture in which common decency is discarded for the sake of a discount," she wrote.
The Boston Globe said bluntly: "On this Black Friday in Long Island, consumerism looked more like modern idolatry."
By Derek Kravitz |
December 4, 2008; 11:21 AM ET
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