Like many I was shocked by the Black Friday death of a Wal-Mart store employee last month. In a totally out of control scene, a crowd of about two thousand eager shoppers broke down doors and stormed into a Wal-Mart in New York the morning after Thanksgiving. A temporary employee, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour, didn’t move fast enough and was trampled to death. Several others, including a pregnant woman, suffered minor injuries in the stampede.
Last week, the family of the trampled employee filed a wrongful-death lawsuit naming several defendants including Wal-Mart. In a statement, shortly after the tragedy, the nation’s largest retailer said: “The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority.” Hmm, is this really the case or has Wal-Mart been putting profit ahead of the safety of its workers and the public?
A former Wal-Mart temp employee, whom I’ll call “Fred,” worked for several years at a store in Las Vegas. Fred says the first year he stocked shelves and helped set up displays on Thanksgiving night. Fred has an extensive work resume, but he insists he was not prepared for the Black Friday bargain shoppers. “I was surprised at the volume of people and at the aggressiveness by which they literally ran to the display and grab the items. In fact, if not for the effort, (of) one of my co-workers to push me out of the way I probably would have been trampled in the stampede.”
At Wal-Mart, Black Friday is known as “Blitz Day” because shoppers blitz the store hunting for one-time bargains, according to Fred.
Tomorrow in part 2 of this report, Fred recounts the time a manager whipped a Black Friday crowd into a frenzy with just one phrase over the loudspeaker.