Protestors React To Black Friday
By Hassan Mokaddam
Protestors felt consumers on Black Friday were unconsciously giving corporations what they wanted, more money in the bank.
On the eve of every Black Friday, consumers line up for hours waiting to purchase cheap products. A survey conducted in 2010 by The National Retail Federation showed an estimate of 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend. And this year was no different.
Although consumers were excited to join the lines for Black Friday deals, protestors continued protesting.
Behind the barricades of Zuccotti Park was former Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis. Lewis was arrested for participating in Occupy Wall Street last month, but that has not stopped him from protesting.
Lewis, wearing his full uniform proudly, said, “Shopping doesn’t help anyone. It only helps the billionaires.”
Lewis believes corporations are brainwashing people.
“On Black Friday, I went to get toothpaste, and I saw just so much shopping bags and poor people carrying junk; stuff that they totally didn’t need,” he said. “All that materialistic stuff, this is what corporate America wants. They want people to think that they need all this stuff to be happy. It’s all brainwashing.”
Standing beside Lewis was Xiamara Hayes, a New York State licensed special education teacher.
Hayes was holding up a sign that said, “Elephants and asses are poisoning the masses.”
Hayes was shocked to see how many people were lining up for Black Friday. She felt it was her obligation to let consumers know she was fighting for them.
“I was really dismayed to see the thousands of people running like mindless individuals to give their money to the corporations in this time of need,” she said. “It’s just very upsetting to see that the people do not understand what we are fighting for. We are trying to wake the people up, but they are turning their noses up, and I do not know what has to happen to them.”
Nearing the entrance of the park was another protestor named John Nicholson. Nicholson is a laid off EMS worker. He did not feel spending money was necessarily a bad thing.
“I have a 50/50 opinion,” he said. “I feel Black Friday is great for the 99% because it’s the only time of the year they can afford something; that’s good for us. If anything, Black Friday should be every day.”
Nicholson also understood why some are against Black Friday.
“We are feeding the corporate greed. It’s that simple” he said. “But for me, I stand neutral.”
Between shopping or protesting, Nicholson recommended we do both.
“You can be both, it’s not being hypocritical or against Occupy Wall Street. Everyone is in a financial disaster. If a TV is on sale for $100, I say go for it.”
Gilbert Gambucci, another protestor, is an international educator, and a social scientist who published a popular blog focusing on the origin of our current economic crisis at www.promiseland.info.
Gambucci believes we should stop supporting the 1%.
“There’s a very big inversion that takes place in society where the 99% think that the 1% is necessary, that we need them,” he said. “Instead, it is the fact that the 1% needs the 99%.”
Gambucci believed not many people understood the protest, or the economic issues they are fighting against.
“They would understand that better if everyone, for example, stopped buying for one day,” he said. “Companies would fold up, and then they would realize who the 99% are. We need to get the point where we have to stop buying from them.”
Though people questioned the protest, Gambucci was patient.
“It takes a little time for consciousness to get everybody,” he said. “We are here fighting for the rest of the people who don’t even know what’s going on.”
Gambucci was still hopeful that, in time, people would listen. “There’s a certain type of patience we have to have with the people, and I am ready to wait” he said.
While the protest might not be going on in Zuccotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street Movement is still going strong.