Michael Brown Protesters Urge Shoppers to Boycott Black Friday – NBCNews.com
The commercial chaos of Black Friday was added to by protesters across the country urging people to boycott the high-traffic shopping day in response to a grand jury’s decision Monday not to indict white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an 18-year-old black teen, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.
After nights of violent protests and looting in Ferguson and surrounding areas, the Black Friday protests in Missouri were relatively calm. About two dozen people gathered at a Wal-Mart in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “no more Black Friday,” but promptly retreated from the entrance of the store when police threatened arrest, according to The Associated Press.
But tensions escalated late Friday as more than a dozen protesters were arrested in Ferguson, according to the St. Louis County Police Department. A police department statement said that 16 people were arrested. The arrests followed an initially calm demonstration outside the Ferguson police department after police said protesters were illegally blocking West Florissant Avenue, according to The Associated Press.
Earlier on Friday a group also circled near a Wal-Mart on West Florissant Ave. — the epicenter of tumultuous protests over Brown’s death — calling for Wilson’s arrest. And a St. Louis mall closed for a brief time as dozens of protesters moved store to store staging “die-ins,” where they lie down on the floor like corpses, according to NBC affiliate KSDK.
Thursday night also brought “stand up, don’t shop” rallies at big box stores around St. Louis County during Thanksgiving shopping. St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Rick Eckhard told NBC News Friday afternoon that there weren’t any reports of arrests during any of the gatherings.
The scene was more disruptive in West Oakland, California, where about 20 people chained themselves together through the doors of a Bay Area Rapid Transit train (BART), at a station heavily used by Black Friday shoppers, forcing the station to shut down, according to a BART statement. One participant told NBC Bay Area that the group planned to stay on the tracks for four hours to symbolize the amount of time Brown’s body was in the street after he was killed. The station remained closed for about two hours and reopened around 1 p.m. (4 p.m. ET), according to BART. BART Police Lt. Lance Haight told NBC Bay Area that officers had arrested 14 people for interfering with the railway system.
A group of about 300 later marched in San Francisco, trying to get their outrage over the grand jury decision to shoppers in Union Square, NBC Bay Area reported.
In Los Angeles, police again detained protesters in the Westlake neighborhood. A group of about 150 converged on Beverly Road were surrounded by police who told them to stay out of traffic at around 5:20 p.m. local time. The crowd noticeably thinned, but police began detaining demonstrators at 6:30 p.m.
As protests quieted in Ferguson over the last two days, police in Los Angeles said around 371 people have been arrested so far this week in protests that have occurred nearly every night, including incidents were crowds blocked freeways, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Protesters marching through Wicker Park in Chicago also made reference to the amount of time Brown’s body was in the street, saying they would stay out for more than four hours and ask people not to shop, according to NBC Chicago. About 100 people were involved in the largely-peaceful protest, which collected supporters with the Twitter hashtags “#blackoutfriday” and “#boycottblackfriday.”
“Getting the best sales is just silly when people’s lives are being wrecked every single day,” protester Heather Loring-Albright told NBC Chicago.
The same sentiment was expressed outside of one of the world’s largest department stores — the flagship Macy’s in New York City’s Herald Square. “Out of the store, into the streets,” about 150 protesters chanted. Some entered the department store before exiting through another set of doors.
The larger group outside blocked traffic in the highly-congested area before moving onto the sidewalk and marching to Times Square, according to NBC New York. Police mostly allowed the civil disobedience, and even provided a path ahead of the protesters on the streets, to the dismay of drivers, and demonstrators who were determined to avoid the cops.
Protesters also entered at least two malls in Seattle. At the Westlake Mall, protesters crowded entire levels of the shopping center and the food court, chanting “Black Lives Matter,” according to NBC affiliate King 5. Demonstrators also chained some doors of the Pacific Place Mall closed, according to the Seattle Police Department, which wrote in a tweet that their solution would be “#boltcutters.”
A group then moved to the streets where they threw flares, used pepper spray and blocked traffic, according to Seattle Police. At least five people were arrested in the clashes.
In Washington D.C., some people outside of a Wal-Mart were demanding greater wages, while others were protesting the Ferguson decision. “Black Lives Matter” signs sprinkled a group of people who were chanting, “Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart, you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side.”
Meanwhile, some chants easily covered both causes: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” one woman yelled through a bullhorn.
NBC News’ Katie Wall and Ribka Gemilangsari contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.