Black Friday Madness in the IE
By Alex Distefano
As thousands of eager, rabid shoppers gathered at retail stores across the country for the annual Black Friday discount deals, hundreds of others also congregated for another purpose—to protest against low wages and unjust working conditions, against the second largest corporation and retail outlet in the world, Wal-Mart.
The IE saw its share of these protests amid the shopping obsessed holiday chaos, and according to local TV news station, ABC 7, there were almost 100 protestors at the Wal-Mart location in Ontario on Black Friday, 10 of which were arrested for refusing police orders to leave after the protest, and blocking traffic on Mountain Avenue. Warehouse Workers United put the nationwide protests together; an Ontario based non-profit organization seeking to improve working conditions and wages for Southern California’s low wageworkers.
Elizabeth Brennan, from Warehouse Workers United told ABC 7 that while Wal-Mart rakes in an annual estimated profit $17 billion, most of its workers have families who are struggling to get by with less than $17,000 dollars a year. She said that the protestors demanded better pay, benefits and better treatment for all Wal-Mart employees.
The Press Enterprise reported that a man dressed as Santa Claus was among the 10 people arrested at the protest. The protest in Ontario was held in conjunction with 1,500 simultaneous protests across the country, in cities such as Washington D.C., Miami, Sacramento and Chicago. Another protest was also held in front of a Wal-Mart on Crenshaw in Los Angeles, where 250 picketed in front of the store, with no major incidents to report.
Ontario Police department spokesman Detective William Russell told Press Enterprise that none of the 100 protestors ever entered the store, and around 50 police officers were sent to keep order on the streets near the store. He said that the people arrested would most likely be cited for a violation, a misdemeanor charge of “Failure to Disperse,” but would ultimately be let out of jail.
The protest at the Wal-Mart in Ontario even made national headlines putting the spotlight on the IE, and was featured online and in news outlets around the country—even The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which capitalized on the symbolic image of Santa Claus being led away from the Wal-Mart in handcuffs.
But, aside from the protests against Wal-Mart, Black Friday also proved to be outright dangerous for some shoppers, as there were dozens of violent incidents from coast to coast. Locally, the Press Enterprise also reported that a Rialto police officer was hurt outside of a Wal-Mart, when he intervened in a fight between two men. The altercation between the two men occurred just after the doors of the store opened, as more than 3,000 people flocked towards the entrance. The policeman broke his wrist in the scuffle, according to the Press Enterprise, and is expected to make a full recovery.
In Carlsbad, local news stations from San Diego reported that a person was stabbed in the stomach, outside of a mall; while in Las Vegas, two men allegedly shot a man in the leg, while attempting to rob his newly purchased big screen television set in a Target parking lot.
A shockingly violent attack happened in Virginia, according to the Huffington Post, where a violent fight turned into a stabbing outside of a Wal-Mart parking lot. According to police, the fight broke out over a parking space, and one of the men even pulled out a gun.
Just outside of Illinois, a police officer was dragged from a moving car by a suspected shoplifter. The incident happened at Kohl’s in the town of Romeoville, according to local news reports, and the driver was shot in the arm by police and taken into custody. The officer suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from an area hospital.