Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7 a.m.
Last year around this time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent in his force of NYPD officials to Zuccotti Park right before dawn, evicting the original Occupy Wall Street encampment that ignited a movement that would soon spread across the world. A week later, while the protestors reeled from the enforcement, hundreds of thousands of Americans descended upon department stores and Wal-Marts all over the country, stomping each other's faces (and sometimes killing each other) to grab the last piece of half-off Tubberware or whatever. We have all seen the videos.
A point could be made that what Black Friday means to us as a nation of consumers stands as the anti-thesis to most of Occupy's ideals. It's that time of the year to cringe at hyper-capitalism and to gawk at what it can do to us. And, somehow, it comes hours after giving thanks for each other's company at the dinner table.
Well, since its eviction, Occupy has been busy focusing its energy in different ways, many of which have been seen in recent weeks. There's the Rolling Jubilee
, a project started by an Occupy offshoot that seeks to buy up and forgive millions of dollars worth in debt; there's Occupy Sandy
, the positively-received disaster relief project that has offered aid to victims in the face of government inefficiency; and, now, activists are rolling out their newest event: Occupy Black Friday.
"To Occupy Black Friday means to support local communities," Brett Chamberlin, an activist and student journalist at NYU, told me. "Rather than contributing to the consumer nightmare, which pits neighbors against one another in a manufactured frenzy to accumulate more stuff that we just don't need."
For these reasons, Brett and co-activist Alex Fried created this list a week ago to go alongside with the event. Since the list's creation, it has garnered over 15,000 shares on Facebook and gone viral across Occupy networks. You can find it here:
Brett Chamberlin/Alex Fried
And, just to remind ourselves what Black Friday looks like, here's a bit of that 'manufactured frenzy' in Buffalo (just a warning; it's really uncomfortable/sad to watch):