At least six people were shot during Black Friday sales events this year in the U.S., including two brothers outside a Macy’s in New Jersey, and another man who was killed over a parking spot at a Walmart in Reno, Nevada.
Desmond Cottman, 21, was shot multiple times and pronounced dead early Friday morning outside the Hamilton Mall in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Cottman had recently become a father and was a member of the U.S. Air National Guard. His brother, 26-year-old Shadi Cottman, was shot in the leg during the same altercation.
In Reno, a Walmart shopper was shot to death just minutes after Black Friday doorbusters began Thursday night. Police said the victim was gunned down in a road rage incident that escalated into a dispute over a parking spot. The shooter — described as a black man in a dark-colored Toyota with damage to the side windows and brake lights — fled the scene.
There have been at least 9 deaths and 102 injuries linked to Black Friday sales events since 2006, according to the Daily Mail. Among the most shocking casualties:
- Walmart Death Stampede – At a Walmart in Long Island, New York, on Black Friday 2008, more than 2,000 people knocked the front doors off their hinges minutes before opening and stampeded into the store, trampling a 34-year-old temporary employee to death and causing a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage. The shoppers’ excuse? $20 off a PS3.
- Target Shoppers Step Over Dying Man – In 2011, a 61-year-old man collapsed while shopping at a Target store in South Charleston, West Virginia, leaving callous crowds to step over him as he lay dying. An off-duty paramedic and ER nurse stepped in to help the man, but he later died at the hospital.
- Toys-R-Us Shooting – On the same Black Friday as the Walmart incident in Long Island, shots rang out at a Toys-R-Us store in Palm Desert, California, killing two men and causing shoppers to scramble for cover. The dispute started when two women began fighting and calling names; both women were with men who were carrying pistols. A gunfight ensued and the men shot each other dead.
- Off-Duty Cop Pepper Sprays Crowd – Off-duty police officer Gordon Jackson was arrested for disorderly conduct after pepper spraying several people during a Black Friday riot at a Walmart in Kinston, North Carolina. A YouTube video shows children and elderly people running and covering their mouths as Jackson applied the pepper spray.
- Transgender Woman Attacked at Kohl’s – A transgender woman and her mother were assaulted by shoppers at a Kohl’s Department Store in Jackson, Mississippi, on Black Friday 2012. Most disgustingly, one of the suspects tore three teeth out of the woman’s mouth, breaking her jaw. As the woman lay badly wounded on the floor, Kohl’s staff greeted other shoppers until a pedestrian called the police.
What does it say about us as consumers, who are willing to fight like starved dogs to save a few bucks on crap we don’t need? The retailers surely deserve their share of the blame, as many (especially Walmart) seem to purposely create situations in which customers are provoked into rioting over discounted merchandise. The more chaos they create, the more of an “event” it becomes, the higher the retailer’s profits. It’s an absurd phenomenon driven by the lowest form of ravenous consumerism.
Imagine a Thanksgiving where the only thing you’re fighting for is the last piece of pumpkin pie, and instead of standing around a freezing parking lot waiting for doors to open, you’re camped out in front of a fire with your loved ones. It’s a novel concept, but give it a try – stay home, spend less, bring back the holidays and put more value on what really matters. After all, ‘tis the season.