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by spocko

It’s Time To Stop This Stunt: Doorbuster Deaths and Injuries on Black Friday

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Family is more important than Shopping.

Marcial Martinez at Orlando Black Friday Protest. Photo Brook Hines

Roughly 2,000 people gathered outside the Wal-Mart’s doors in the predawn darkness.

Chanting ‘push the doors in,’ the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.

Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers.

It didn’t work.

The mob barreled in and overwhelmed workers.

When the madness ended, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour was dead and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.

- NY Daily News November 2008

This happened at a Long Island Wal-Mart in 2008. The folks at Black Friday Death Count have listed one death this year. A teen driving home from a Black Friday sale in North Carolina. Yes, that could happen to anyone returning from an event that starts at zero dark thirty. But the injuries to an 11 year old girl who was trampled in a Wal-Mart in Ohio wouldn’t have happened were it not for the doorbuster frenzy created by stores like Wal-Mart.

There is a direct correlation to the Wal-Mart employee who was injured in Newport, Arkansas and the Black Friday sale. Wal-Mart spokesperson Diana Gee said the employee had no major injuries and “according to Gee, Wal-Mart stores nationwide are having one of the safest Black Friday events they’ve ever had. She said incidents are significantly down.”

Anyone else sickened by the the fact that this has been happening so long that they can track it year over year? Yea for reduction of injuries and deaths but boo to it STILL HAPPENING.

I’m friends with some of the people who organized the Black Friday protests. As of today over 110 were arrested.  I wrote about ways the Wal-Mart lawyers were convincing judges to require protesters to pay $10,000 to protest around Wal-Mart. Their message is clear, “We will not change our sales strategy, even if it kills people.” Instead they focus their energy on attacking their critics, making them pay to protest.

So how about, in the name of public safety, we flip this? New Rule: If you plan a DOORBUSTER STUNT you need to put up a $10,000,000 bond to cover the costs to the community and to cover the injuries and deaths of the people. 

Lets go to cities and get them to pass laws, “Doorbuster stunts will cost ten million dollars for each store, payable in advance. If nobody is injured or dies the store gets part of it back.” Suddenly the cost effectiveness of this media stunt goes away and they will need to figure out a different way to get press and sell crap.

“But Spocko!”  I hear you cry, “The Chamber of Commerce thugs will wail! This is a tax on business!” Well sure, but the companies don’t have to pay it if they don’t do one. Plus, if they do, the communities can get back some of the revenue their city fathers gave away with all those tax breaks they gave them. Money that didn’t go back into the community, but to the richest people in the world.

Speaking of corporations taking money out of communities, do you suppose that the richest communities have lots of Black Friday Doorbuster deaths and injuries? I doubt it. These sales are targeted at the people who are squeezed. If a community requires those Wal-Marts to pony up, to that community, that money is coming from Wal-Marts in the rich communities, not their local community.

Doorbuster sales are PR stunts for the Media. I’ve worked in PR and marketing for decades. I know a stunt when I see one. I’m kind of old fashioned Vulcan though, a stunt in which customers get injured or die was considered bad PR in my day.  In the beginning I’m sure it was fun. “Give the TV cameras something to focus on, get them out to the store! We are making the news!” That was until it went horribly, tragically wrong. Again and again. But they still didn’t stop. Why not? Was it, “Nobody could have predicted…” even after the first few years?

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by spocko

Judge Orders Black Friday Protesters to Post a $10K Bond if Activity Disrupts Access to Walmart Property

6:21 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

A Maryland judge barred Walmart protesters on Tuesday from company property in advance of widespread demonstrations planned for Black Friday.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Harris also ordered activists to post a $10,000 bond, which they would forfeit if they violate the injunction before the trespassing case brought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in September goes to trial.

“This is yet another move from Walmart to try to bend the law to its liking. Walmart has made it a practice to pursue over-the-top legal maneuvers to try to avoid hearing the real concerns of workers and community members,” said Derrick Plummer, spokesman for the organizer, Making Change at Walmart, in a statement.

 Harris’ order also restricts activity that disrupts access to the stores, even if it does not occur on Walmart property.

-By Natalie Sherman, The Baltimore Sun

Remember the good ol’ days when companies would hire goons to physically bust up union protests? Sadly the corporations can’t do that in public anymore, what with all the cameras, plus I think the goons demanded Blackwater-level money. But some companies still want to bust up protests and organizing attempts so now they hire lawyers to restrict their protests and PR goons to beat up the organizers in the media.

My buddy Lee Fang of The Nation just put out a story, Former Walmart Exec Leads Shadowy Smear Campaign Against Black Friday Activists where he links to a video sponsored by the Worker Center Watch (WCW),  a new website dedicated to attacking labor-affiliated activist groups like OUR Walmart, Restaurant Opportunities Center, and Fast Food Forward. WCW won’t tell people who their sponsors are, but The Nation found out the site name was registered by the former head lobbyist for Walmart. Color me surprised.

In one video sponsored by the group, activists demanding a living wage and better working conditions for workers are portrayed as lazy “professional protesters” who “haven’t bothered to get jobs themselves.”

It turns out that Parquet Public Affairs, a Florida-based government relations and crisis management firm for retailers and fast food companies, registered the Worker Center Watch website.

The firm is led by Joseph Kefauver, formerly the President of Public Affairs for Walmart and government relations director for Darden Restaurants.  Throughout the year, Parquet executives have toured the country, giving lectures to business groups on how to combat the rise of what has been called “alt-labor.” At a presentation in October for the National Retail Federation, a trade group for companies like Nordstrom and Nike, Kefauver’s presentation listed wage theft, minimum wage, and mandated paid time off as the types of legislative demands influenced by the worker center protesters.

The presentation offered questions for the group, including: “How Aggressive Can We Be?” and “How do We Challenge the Social Justice Narrative?”

- Lee Fang, The Nation

Start watching for the character assassination of Black Friday protesters. I predict with a 94.3% confidence rate that the media will lap up Walmart’s smears when they cover Black Friday protests. I’ll return next week to see how accurate I was.

BTW, I LOVE those presentation titles! I reminds me of the people who are fighting the war on Hippie Jesus.  Speaking of which, did you see the latest from Pope Francis? He put out a document where he criticized the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”. 

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills…” 

As Digby notes, this is a switch from puritan Jesus or John Galt Jesus:

I want to know who the hell put this Christ in Christmas?  The new pope talking about Hippie Jesus’ message will no doubt lead people to attack the church’s wealth, their pedophile priests and their views on women’s bodies. But, like Digby, I’m excited to see it. It’s a reminder that the people pushing the concept of profit above all have to destroy the true messages of Jesus in order to meet their profit needs. That’s why they want to figure out “How do We Challenge a Social Justice Narrative.”

A social justice narrative doesn’t lead to growing profits for a select group. It leads to a more equitable situation for all.  And they just can’t have that.

Flash back -2 A.D.

Fade in a wedding out side of Jerusalem. It’s four weeks before the pagan Festival of Lights.

A  drunk wedding guest approaches Jesus.

“Hey Jesus, think of how much money you can make from turning this free water into expensive wine! If we combined this water wine with your loaves and fishes trick and my marketing savvy we could make a fortune! We’ll open up a restaurant. We’ll call it, er um,  ”The Needle’s Eye”  and we’ll put it in that empty building over on 3rd. You know, the big brown one you get to when pass through Cameltown.  I’m serious! With free wine and free food our only costs would be labor. But if we get people to work for you for free, say we call them disciples instead of waiters, it would be pure profit. That’s it! Jesus H. Christ, the Pure Prophet! Oh My God, I’m a genius. I’ve got to get this idea to Matthew, Mark and Luke so we can get some coverage on this. I just hope they get the story straight. The gospels are so easily manipulated. Gotta run, partner. Give my best to Mary.”

Happy Holidays everyone!

Live Long and Prosper,