For the past two nights protesters dismayed by the outcome of the Ferguson grand jury have taken their defiance to the streets of cities across the US . Now they are redirecting their anger about police brutality towards a new target – the splurge of conspicuous consumption that is Black Friday.
Twitter has begun to sprout a crop of hashtags calling on people concerned about the Ferguson shooting to zip up their wallets on 28 November. The main hashtag, #BoycottBlackFriday, has already been circulated among more than 7 million Twitter users , and there is also sizeable traffic to hashtags such as #BlackOutBlackFriday, #NotOneDime, #HandsUpDontSpend and #DontRiotDontBuyIt.
The thinking behind the boycott is spelled out in a video produced by Ryan Coogler, the director of Fruitvale Station, the indie movie that dramatizes the police killing of Oscar Grant at a Bart station in Oakland, California, in 2008. Coogler founded the group Blackout for Human Rights shortly after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson in August.
The video shows clippings of police officers beating and kicking a succession of unarmed black men over a soundtrack of the anthem of the holiday season, Most Wonderful Time of the Year. “This season show your worth,” the video exhorts its viewers. “Help stop police brutality by $peaking a language everyone understands. Don’t shop November 28th.”
The call for a boycott has been given a push by celebrity supporters like Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams who tweeted : “No justice, no profit: corporate /public power only speaks $.”
Despite the evident passion that is swirling around Twitter and Facebook , the boycott’s organizers and participants have a mountain to climb if they are to make their non-buying voices heard on Friday. Against them is the full weight of a consumer culture that equates happiness with spending.
The National Retail Federation predicts that stores and internet shopping sites will be inundated this weekend by 140 million people hunting for bargains. If those numbers are realized it would represent the biggest surge in retail sales for the season since 2011.
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