There is a lot of fallout from the Black Friday death of a temp employee at a New York Wal-Mart store. The worker, Jdimytai Damour, was 6-5 and tipped the scales at 270 pounds. Nevertheless, when a bargain hungry throng of two thousand or so shoppers rammed through the doors, Damour was trampled to death. A few days ago, Damour’s family named Wal-Mart as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Fred, not his real name, says he’s survived some dangerous Black Fridays at Wal-Mart. He remembers back in 2006, when the Las Vegas area Wal-Mart he was working at had more special sale items than ever before. There were additional police on hand and extra precautions. “We had opened the doors and erected barriers to hold back the crowds,” Fred says. However, the situation went from calm and orderly to a riot when a manager declared over the loudspeaker that the merchandise would be distributed on a “first come first serve basis.”
“There was suddenly a loud roaring sound of people screaming, pushing forward. They attacked the police officers, Wal-Mart associates, anyone standing in front of the pallets of the items (electronic, toys, appliances, and house wares). I was at the door of the store but I could see the mass of humanity pushing, shoving, fighting, yelling, and behaving like a pride of lions on the first meal. Wal-Mart supervisors jumped onto the pallets and began to throw items into the crowd to save their employees from being crushed by shoppers. It took this effort and the depletion of the items to bring order. The police arrested at least 10 shoppers; five Wal-Mart employees were injured,” according to Fred now a former Wal-Mart employee.
Before I spoke with Fred, I thought the tragic death of a Wal-Mart employee on November 28 occurred during a rare episode of shopper insanity. Now, after listening to Fred recount his experience, clearly Wal-Mart has had crowd control problems before. It is really too bad the retailer did not make some serious changes to curtail the Black Friday mob mentality among shoppers at its stores before one man lost his life needlessly.