Marking a convergence of public anger and dissent on the annual shoppping bonanza of "Black Friday," people drawing the connection between American consumer culture, economic disparity, and racial injustice are targeting retail stores and malls Friday to voice ongoing critiques of the events and underlying issues in Ferguson, Missouri now galvanizing outrage across the country.
Organized by Blackout for Human Rights— "a network of concerned artists, activists, and citizens" co-founded by Ryan Coogler, award-winning director of the film Fruitvale Station, which explores the 2008 police killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland— the campaign called for a nationwide shopping boycott on the day after Thanksgiving to oppose the "staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans" by law enforcement officers too rarely held accountable. In a statement on the need for Friday's protests, the group explained:
We have witnessed enough. An affront to any citizen’s human rights threatens the liberty of all. So, we participate in one of the most time honored American traditions: dissent. We demand an immediate end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killings of our loved ones; the lives of our friends, our parents and our children have value and should be treated with respect. Our right to life is secured not only by our humanity, but is protected by law both federally and internationally by the Constitution of the United States of America and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Under the hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday, organizers and participants in the St. Louis area and nationwide expressed the need to connect the dots between consumerism, institutionalized racism, and inequality:
And The Guardian reports:
Beginning on Thanksgiving night, dozens of activists turned up at major retailers around the St Louis area with protest signs. They chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” as shoppers whizzed past in search of heavily-discounted TVs and vacuums.
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The demonstrations, staged at an area Target and multiple Walmart stores, were brief and peaceful. As of mid-morning, there had been no reports of arrests related to the protests. In at least one instance, protesters were ordered by police to leave, and they did so peacefully, Reuters reported. More protests were expected throughout the day on Friday.
Th boycott was an extension of the Black Lives Matter campaign, meant to empower black voices by demonstrating their purchasing power.
As part of the campaign, organizers released several videos. The first, titled 'The Time Has Come,' was used to promote Friday's boycott and articulates the need for a serious engagement with the issue of police brutality and race:
And another, titled 'Most Wonderful Time of the Year,' depicts graphic video footage of police violence in recent years which has helped expose the trend of violence that has too frequently, thoughout U.S. history, gone undocumented [Warning: graphic]: