Black Friday used to be known as a retailers’ cash cow and the (sometimes deadly) kick-off to Christmas shopping. Since the 2008 recession, however, the biggest shopping day of the year appears to be turning into a symbol of one long holiday weekend of national protest–and this year striking Walmart employees with support from fast-food workers have company. Inspired by Ferguson and galvanized by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, disparate calls are gaining steam for an economic boycott this Friday in honor of Michael Brown. This Black Friday could mark the popular merging of low-wage labor fights for economic justice with social justice fights for human and civil rights–all concerns that affect working class communities of color.
“Our campaign is separate from the Walmart protest but we stand in solidarity and support their efforts,” wrote Mike Latt* in an e-mail to Colorlines. Latt is president of marketing for Blackout for Human Rights, which is leading a national social media (#BlackOutBlackFriday) and offline campaign to boycott stores this Friday. Latt told Forbes that the nonprofit, formed by “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler, wants to, “encourage those sick of the status quo to spend their Black Friday doing something more useful than shopping.”
Other hashtag campaigns drawing similar inspiration from Ferguson, Forbes reports, are #NotOneDime and #HandsUpDontSpend. In St. Louis, the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition and other groups according to the local Fox affiliate, are separately calling for a weekend boycott November 19-December 3, 2014.
St. Louis labor leader Bradley Harmon of Communications Workers of America on a recent WorkWeekRadio podcast (9:40-12:39) connects the dots between Mike Brown’s death, the grand jury’s decision and disenfranchisement among St. Louis’s youth:
Before Mike Brown got shot 47% of young black men in St Louis couldn’t find work and…that’s what Gov. Nixon should’ve declared a state of emergency about a long time ago….So many young people are being left behind by this economy. And then when Mike Brown was shot that’s another example of the way that government is failing working class people. The kind of interaction that Mike Brown got from the government, the services that he needed, the school that he went to, the social services that should have been there when his family was having hard times…the kind of support that should’ve been there for his family wasn’t there from the government and the kind of interaction that he did get from the state of Missouri, the city of Ferguson and the St. Louis County government was bullets from Officer Darren Wilson.
Listen for more, as well as a statement from imprisoned Mumia Abu-Jamal (1:05-2:54) reacting to the grand jury decision, below:
Calls for a national economic boycott this Black Friday to protest police brutality are coming at a time when even mainstream press debates whether Ferguson shows that cops who kill get off too easily.
* Post has been updated since publication to correct the last name, Latt, not Ladd.