On “Black Friday,” word spread quickly via media outlets and the Internet that a Walmart worker in a New York Store was trampled to death by the crowd rushing through the doors for bargains.
People expressed shock, disbelief, anger and sadness.
For the record, the man’s name is Jdimytai Damour. He was among the Walmart employees inside the Valley Stream, NY store forming a human chain to slow down the crowd of some 2,000 people outside the store who were chanting “break down the doors.” At 34 years of age, Damour was 6’5″ tall and weighed 270 pounds, large enough one might think to hold his own against incoming shoppers. Even so, he died of asphyxiation; the EMTs trying to save him were also stepped on by the crowd. Everyone who came into the store–and they did continue to come in–could not have missed the man lying on the floor. They either passed him by or they, too, stepped on him.
People who know about the logistics of such things are saying that there are good ways and bad ways to prepare for the prospective chaos during store openings on Black Friday when extraordinary deals have been well publicized to lure in shoppers. In this case, experts are suggesting that security should have been outside the store rather than inside, and positioned to organize the crowd into orderly lines. Others are noting that those in the human chain had had no experience in crowd control.
There will probably be a wrongful death suit against Walmart as Damour’s family works with police using security tapes to ascertain whether it’s even possible to see who–specifically–tramped him and whether they acted out of negligence or were pushed over him by the people behind them. The store’s ineffective use of barricades and security personnel placement will be discussed. So, too, the crowd control techniques of other stores across the nation that advertised tempting bargains but experienced little or no chaos.
Perhaps justice will ultimately be served, the victim’s family compensated, closure of one kind or another will be found, and retailers and shoppers will learn more about safety and crowd control prior to Black Friday 2009.
I’m wondering, though, what your take is on the frenzy itself. What is it in a person’s mindset that makes Black Friday bargains, deals and prizes so compelling that s/he is willing to become part of a mob in order to get his/her item in a “me first” rush?
What does this event say about the shoppers outside that Walmart? What does it say about all of us, the thousands of people who get up at 3 a.m. to get their places in line (or near the front of a crowd or a mob) for the 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Black Friday store openings?
Why are the deals important enough for this?
NOTE: On December 11th, Shelagh Watkins, creator and editor of the recently published Forever Friends anthology will visit with us to talk about the book. I hope you’ll join us with comments and questions.
Copyright (c) 20008 by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the magical adventure novel The Sun Singer.