Who is to blame for the death of a Walmart worker on Black Friday?


wal43635324 Photo by Newsday There has been much debate on the Internet over who is to blame for the death of Jdimytai Damou, the 34-year-old Walmart worker who was trampled to death by shoppers on Black Friday. Many people blame Walmart, saying the store is

wal43635324 Photo by Newsday

There has been much debate on the Internet over who is to blame for the death of Jdimytai Damou, the 34-year-old Walmart worker who was trampled to death by shoppers on Black Friday.

Many people blame Walmart, saying the store is directly responsible for the death for not implementing safety precaution measures, including extra security guards.

Others blame the mob of shoppers who did the trampling, saying this particular crowd was so caught up with saving a buck or two, that they had no regard for their fellow human being dying on the floor.

Of course the shoppers are to blame because in their rush to beat each other for bargain deals, they refused to stop and help this man back up.

But Walmart is also to blame because it knew the potential for danger it was creating having seen it before, according to this video of a Black Friday Walmart opening in 2005 where several people got trampled. Only they didn’t get killed.

Note how quickly the Walmart employee scoots out the way after opening the door. If only Damou had seen this video perhaps he would still be alive today.

Knowing the potential for serious injury, Walmart did nothing to change its opening Black Day tactics. In fact, all it did was hype up Black Friday by taping a handwritten sign outside the store, stating “Blitz Line Starts Here” to set the mood for customers as to what will happen once the doors open.

Blitz line as in Blitzkrieg, which is defined as “an intense military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory.”

wal_walmart_stampede_01 Taken from a cell phone during Friday’s deadly stampede and posted on the www.nydailynews.com

Or as in Blitz defense where a linebacker or cornerback vacates their post to strike fast and hard at the quarterback.

In other words, to blitz into the store means to not worry about petty little obstacles like human beings being trampled under your feet.

It is exactly what you see in the above photo, which was taken by one of the customers that morning and posted on the New York Daily News Website.

To get multi perspectives on national news stories, I like to visit Democratic Underground and Conservative Cave to get the reactions of both sides of the political spectrum. But in this case, the responses were not much different.

A Democratic Underground poster named Magic Rat, who used to work at Walmart, tells this story of how Walmart deliberately understocked products that are set at bargain prices, knowing the people will pay regular prices for whatever else they’re buying.

Two years ago at this time I was working at Wal-Mart while I was going to school to earn my degree. I remember the black friday that I worked in 2006. It was absolutely insane. About 500 people on line outside the store at 4 am.

At 5:00 they opened the doors and people flooded in like locusts. They made a mad dash, running into eachother, knocking stuff over, all trying to get the $400 laptop that was on sale and the Nintendo Wii that we had in stock.

We had three laptops and six Wii’s – all for the 500 people on line who wanted them.

When I read about this story a few minutes ago it absolutely broke my heart, because the person who died was a part-time worker like I was. He or she probably made around $7 or $8 an hour.

If you don’t think Wal-Mart is entirely to blame for this, you’re wrong. The way Wal-Mart sets up black friday is to have everyone stand in a long line and as soon as the doors open, take about 20 or so people and have them come into the store first, then wait a few minutes and have another 20. Of course, Wal-Mart only tells the people at the front of the line this. Not to mention that they don’t tell people how many actual items are in stock, so if you’re number 50 on the line, and you’re expecting to get a laptop or tv or dvd player or something that they have only four or five quantities of, well, you’re shit out of luck.

But when you have 500 people crowding into a space that holds, at most, about a dozen people, you’re going to get a mob mentality, because it literally is every man for themselves.

And a Conservative Cave poster named Big Don who also works at Walmart confirmed there are limited items that are listed for sale, but he blames the distributors. He also blames a managerial screw-up in Friday’s incident.

I work at Wal Mart. I make OK money and have, contrary to many stories, excellent medical coverage, and a number of benefits you never, ever hear about. The ONLY people who have keys to the doors at Wal Marts are the Store Managers and the Assistant Managers, these keys DO NOT leave their hands, that said, if this poor guy was unlocking the door, as reported, someone did something VERY incompatible with company guidelines.

We had 16 of those XBoxes, and no fights and not even a raised voice when we sold out of them at 6:05. A better target for rage on Wii, Xbox and PS3 pricing and availability would be Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Why don’t we have enough, because THEY do not make enough to meet demand.

It’s pretty startling to learn that on the busiest day of the shopping year, either Walmart or Sony or Microsoft or Ninentdo or any number of corporations that are pulling our consumer strings have done very little to supply the demand they are counting on to get them out of the red and into the black.

Of course this makes stupid business sense, so I’m betting they restock the shelves once the early morning sale ends and the items go back to their regular price, once the hundreds of early bird customers have scratched and clawed and trampled over one other, only to end up empty handed.

This is when the mobs of shoppers will now pay regular prices for something they could have purchased any time between now and Christmas at the same price. But by buying it on Black Friday, they are doing their corporate masters a big favor by pushing them into the black.

So when it comes down to it, Walmart’s methods of hyping up the sales was just another version of the illegal bait-and-switch tactic.

Only this time, the victim ended up dying.


Citizen Journalism