On what is being dubbed “Brown Friday,” social justice and left-wing activists — including Occupy members — are using the Ferguson’s grand jury’s decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown to condemn capitalism.
In Ferguson, demonstrators protested at stores including Target and Walmart and shouted at Black Friday shoppers, while a Ferguson Toys “R” Us store did not even bother to open early in the morning because of potential protests. Leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement reportedly trained some demonstrators in Ferguson ahead of the the grand jury’s announcement.
“We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,” Clemson University professor Chenjerai Kumanyika told reporters in Ferguson on Friday morning during the protests. “Capitalism is one of many systems of oppression.”
In Chicago, social justice activists joined with Occupy Chicago members to take over the Water Tower Plaza for 4½ hours, symbolizing “the same amount of time they said Brown’s body laid in the street after he was killed.”
“We’re in a system that values black dollars, but not black bodies. So we want to send a message on this day, particularly for everybody, to not spend money on a system that will not deliver justice,” Malcolm London of the Black Youth Project 100 told CBS Chicago.
The Chicago demonstrators reportedly chanted, “If we don’t get no justice, then you don’t get no profit.”
Kristiana Colon, who helped organized the Chicago protests, said they were “protesting here on Black Friday to encourage people not to shop, and not to spend, in solidarity with those people.”
“We believe that the police in Chicago, in Ferguson, and across America are more concerned with protecting retail business, commerce, and property than they are with protecting people, their lives, and their rights,” she told CBS Chicago. “So long as the system is more interested in corporations and corporate greed than people, we are asking people to divest in those corporations.”
Celebrities have also fueled the boycotts, calling for a nationwide retail boycott on Black Friday.
The “Blackout for Human Rights” group is calling for the boycotts to “immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans throughout the United States.” The group aims “to make Black Friday (November 28, 2014) a nationwide day of action and retail boycott. Blackout will be organizing grassroots events, nationwide, for people to come out and show their solidarity in the fight for equal human rights.”
Celebrities including Russell Williams, Tom Morello, Jesse Williams, Michael Jordan and Kat Graham have since promoted the national boycott on social media (#blackoutblackfriday) and in various interviews with mainstream media publications.
“We have witnessed enough. We mourn the loss of men like Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John Crawford and Michael Brown, who met their deaths at the hands of police officers,” the group declares on its website. “We mourn the loss of life and the absence of justice for Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis, killed by private citizens, in a climate where police action demonstrates this as acceptable. An affront to any citizen’s human rights threatens the liberty of all. So, we participate in one of the most time honored American traditions: dissent.”
The movement’s “hope” is “to end violence against and the unjust killings of American citizens” and its purported aim is “to raise awareness that builds and maintains pressure on the instruments of power until we are satisfied that the current threat has passed.” One of the movement’s goals is to “empower citizens most at risk for these types of violations (low income, minorities, women and the disabled) by using our collective economic resources to make impact.”
Ryan Coogler, the director of “Fruitvale Station,” and Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma” are leading the boycotts. DuVernay claimed to The Wrap that, “Ferguson is a mirror of the past. And Selma is a mirror of now. We are in a sad, distorted continuum. It’s time to really look in that mirror.” Jesse Williams, the Grey’s Anatomy actor who once said there was a “plantation vibe” in Ferguson, promoted the boycotts and tweeted, “No Justice, No Profit.”
— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) November 25, 2014