Black Friday fights have long been a central component of consumerism’s holiest of holy days and 2016 continues that trend in rather disturbing fashion. Two people have been shot and killed, with at least 2 others injured by gunfire. Countless fights, mob stampedes, and shoving matches have been reported on social media channels and posted to Youtube. Black Friday violence has been such a huge part of the day after Thanksgiving over the years that it’s become a common cliché and the butt of many jokes, but there is nothing funny about people being injured and killed over the desire to buy discount-priced televisions, video game systems, and Hatchlings, or whatever the hottest toy of the season happens to be in any given year.
Black Friday had barely even begun and many people’s turkey and stuffing had not even finished digesting when a fight broke out over a parking space at 1 a.m. in front of a Macy’s in Mays Landing, New Jersey, leaving 1 person dead and another badly injured as reported by the New York Daily News. The same report lists another gun killing in front of a Walmart late Thursday night, and another man was shot Thursday evening in front of Wolfchase Galleria Mall in Memphis, Tennessee.
BREAKING: Shooting leaves 1 person dead outside Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing pic.twitter.com/VT01i62ixj— News12NJ (@News12NJ) November 25, 2016
The video below shows a Black Friday brawl breaking out earlier today at Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, California. At least one participant seems to be knocked out during the fight. Viewer discretion is advised.
Another video posted to Facebook shows people competing for televisions.
The violence on Black Friday is not isolated to one country or continent either. An off-duty police officer trying to stop a shoplifter at an HMV clothing store in Leeds, England was stabbed in the neck, reported BBC news. And the South African news website Eyewitness News has reported a woman was injured in a large stampede at a shopping center in that country’s capital city, Johannesburg.
No discount is worth the taking of a human life or trampling over other people in a stampede, and no parking space is so good that it’s worth fighting over. So why are Black Friday fights and mob violence such a common occurrence that most of us would be surprised if a year went by with no such incidents? One problem could be the degree to which these stores overhype their sales. They entice consumers to the point where the desire to save some money on a bargain becomes almost feverish and all rational thinking is gone. And crowds tend to make people angry and anxious in many situations. People have been hurt in stampedes and fist fights at huge concerts as well, so Black Friday is not alone in its ability to bring out the worst behavior in people.
Some people have chosen to avoid or even consciously boycott the Black Friday madness entirely, either due to wanting to avoid stampeding crowds and the fights or to make a statement against what they see as an unhealthy level of consumerism which, by the way, runs counter to the original intent of the holiday season for which Black Friday is often considered the unofficial start. Some people even stage protests against Black Friday shopping, such as the one held every year on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and written about in the Chicago Tribune. This year’s protests included calls for an end to police violence.
It’s unlikely that 2016 is the last year that we will be seeing violence on Black Friday. Despite the potential dangers, stores will continue to open ridiculously early and intentionally limit quantities to essentially encourage this type of behavior to continue. And too many people, for whatever reason, whether it’s personality defects or the heat of the moment, will decide to behave badly in response. The only thing any of us can do is make the choice to keep ourselves sane and safe and avoid the Black Friday madness, or at least participate in ways that don’t contribute to the problem.
Watch more Black Friday 2016 fights in the video below. Viewer discretion is advised.