The death of Jdimypai Damour is a tragedy that has been further compounded by the circumstances under which it occurred.
Mr. Damour, 34, a temporary employee of the retail behemoth Wal-Mart who worked at a Long Island, New York store, died Friday after being crushed by a frenzied mob of consumers who pushed through the store’s front doors and trampled him in pursuit of promised ‘Black Friday’ sale items.
What is even more disconcerting about this incident, however, is the fact that the people pushing their way into the store were so blinded by their consumptive greed that they “did not stop to help the employee as he lay on the ground” and continued to obstruct those who attempted to come to his aid and save his life.
At 4:55 a.m., just five minutes before the doors were set to open, a crowd of 2,000 anxious shoppers started pushing, shoving and piling against the locked sliding glass doors of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., Nassau County police said. The shoppers broke the doors off their hinges and surged in, toppling a 34-year-old temporary employee, Jdimypai Damour, 34, of Jamaica, Queens, who had been waiting with other workers in the store’s entryway.
People did not stop to help the employee as he lay on the ground, and they pushed against other Wal-Mart workers who were trying to aid Mr. Damour. The crowd kept running into the store even after the police arrived, jostling and pushing officers who were trying to perform CPR, the police said.
“They were like a stampede,” said Nassau Det. Lt. Michael Fleming. “Hundreds of people walked past him, over him or around him.”
The irony of Mr. Damour’s death under such horrific conditions is devastatingly ironic, given that this November 28, 2008 had been named as a day both to refrain from consumption altogether (for Buy Nothing Day) and, simultaneously, as a day to encourage as much spending as possible by consumers whose “declining confidence” has been weighing heavily on the minds (and balance sheets) of North American retailers and businesses.
Public reaction to Damour’s death has been full of incredulity, outrage, and sadness.
Many have condemned it as a symbolic representation of the ultimate excess of American consumerism — a greed-driven, mass transgression of humanity perpetrated by a group of people seemingly devoid of compassion, self-awareness, or respect for their fellow human beings.
But, sadly, the violence did not end there. In Palm Desert, California, an alleged “fight over a toy” at a Toys-R-Us store resulted in a shootout that ended with two people being killed.
[O]ne witness thought the incident began as a fight over a toy that got louder and louder before shots were fired.
Sarah Pacia of Cathedral City told The Desert Sun newspaper she was in the store with her two boys, ages four and six, looking at colouring books when she heard a commotion in the next aisle.
She thought it was people rushing to get a sale item. Then she heard three or four shots.
At this point it is unclear whether or not the conflict was a result of ‘Black Friday’ sales.
This horrific incident, along with the tragedy at Wal-Mart, raises a critical societal question: is there a limit to North America’s distorted form of hypercapitalism?
Today’s events should stand as a reminder to us all that this collective obsession is, literally, killing us.
This goes beyond the ephemeral feeling of a fleeting ‘purchase high‘ — this is the pursuit of a bargain buy in exchange for a human life.
And no product, sale, or thing will ever be worth that — no matter the price.
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