November 29, 2008

Die for Wal-Mart: Christmas Spirit in Suburban New York

Yesterday was Black Friday, the most important day of the year for retailers in the United States. Millions of Americans get the day after Thanksgiving of from work and most of them go shopping. The stores start opening at ridiculously early hours and shoppers begin lining up at midnight in some places.

This year, the economy being as bad as it is, Wal-Mart is doing a booming business. So booming, in fact, that the Damour family has a whole new reason to call yesterday "Black Friday." It's the day when Jdimytai Damour, a temporary worker charged with opening the doors at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, NY, was trampled to death by a horde of shoppers who thought that getting first dibs on that new George Foreman grill was more important than safety or civility.

Worker dies, patrons injured in stampede at Wal-Mart

By Joseph Mallia & Matthew Chayes

A stampede of shoppers in a Valley Stream Wal-Mart on Friday morning left one worker dead and at least three patrons injured after an impatient crowd broke down the store doors and trampled the seasonal employee, Nassau police said.

Jdimytai Damour of Jamaica, Queens, was pushed to the ground by the 2,000-plus crowd just before 5 a.m. as management was preparing to open the store, which is located across from the main Green Acres Mall building. Hundreds stepped over, around and on the 34-year-old worker as they rushed into the store...

During the fracas, first-responders struggled to reach Damour to tend to him, witnesses said. Even the first police officers on the scene were jostled around, police said...

Amid the chaos in Valley Stream, shoppers were asked to leave by other store workers, said Cribbs. Others ignored the pleas that they stop shopping, move to the front of the store and exit, she said...

Frightened employees initially used the doors as makeshift shields to defend against the onslaught of shoppers, she said.

At that point, lots of people were on the ground, she said, not just Damour.

Authorities said Damour, who was pronounced dead at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream, was working at the store through an employment agency that contracts with the retail giant...
People have lost their minds. A person died, and died horribly, because too many people needed some new toy at a discount more than they needed to stop and think about the well-being of a fellow human. Even when people were on the ground, even when police were trying to help an injured, bleeding person lying on the ground and not moving, the shoppers kept on coming. Nothing was more significant to them than an Incredible Hulk DVD or a sweater or who knows what other insignificant junk that would have been available some other day, if for a few more dollars. There was no reason for this to happen; Damour's death is meaningless and horrible. He was treated worse than we treat animals.

What possesses people to do a thing like this? If you see a crowd of thousands waiting outside a store, go home. Just go shopping some other day... or don't bother. Order online. How could one of these rabid shoppers even give a gift purchased while someone was trampled at the store where they got the thing? "Enjoy your new nose hair trimmer, Uncle Steve! Jdimytai Damour died for it."

If anyone had any doubts about the meaning of Christmas, rejoice. Your query has been answered. It's the most menacing time of the year.

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