Black Friday backlash, combined with civil unrest in Ferguson, MO and other cities nationwide, created a firestorm of protests during Thanksgiving week. In a nod to the Occupy Movement, thousands of workers showed up at retailers hoping to give Black Friday a black eye.
Growing resentment over the economic gap, and disapproval of retailers turning the family-oriented Thanksgiving Day into a cash cow prompted economic boycotts nationwide. And with the ready-made audience of Black Friday shoppers, protestors marched boldly through malls, chanting and holding signs denouncing the acquittal of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
Ferguson Won’t Rest
The annual busiest shopping day of the year came on the heels of widespread violence when Wilson escaped grand jury indictment for shooting unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Angry crowds reacted to the verdict with lootings, fires, and gunshots, which were answered by police teargas.
The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported 13 injuries including two involving gunshot wounds. Despite the level of unrest, however, Thanksgiving Day was relatively quiet. By Saturday, Officer Wilson had announced that he would resign.
Ferguson-related protests broke out in L.A. on Friday at various locations. Eight people were arrested in Westlake in regard to the decision, for allegedly blocking the streets.
Walmart Under Attack
Walmart was also the target of massive demonstrations by employees demanding wage increases and benefits. Strikes and protests were held at 1600 stores in 49 states.
Although Walmart, the nation's largest employer, employs 1.4 million people, and pulls in $16 billion in annual profits, workers say they are not paid livable wages. One worker said he could not afford a car; another said he had not eaten in a day.
Last year, a report commissioned by Congressional Democrats found that each Walmart store costs taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.75 million per year because so many employees are forced to turn to government aid.
Walmart workers across Los Angeles went on a hunger strike Thursday to protest for better jobs. Outside the Walmart Supercenter in Long Beach, employees and community leaders began a 24-hour fast at noon .The fast was symbolic of the hunger Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages.
On the day before Thanksgiving, workers across the nation walked off their jobs. However, according to Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs for the chain, that was not the case at the Baldwin Hills Walmart:
“All of our associates who were scheduled to come to work today are here, serving our customers," she said.
"What is being shown outside is a stark difference from what we are seeing inside here today. We have gotten great feedback from our associates about holiday pay, about additional 25% discount, about availability of hours and promotional opportunities.”