Friday, November 28, 2008

"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."

If you need another reason not to go near the stores today, here's one:

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.....

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.

"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

Only a few stopped.

"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."

It seems that cities and congested areas breed the type of anonymity that would lead to such a tragedy.

Update: There is a chapter on panic in the book I am reading, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why. The author says that panic in a crowd is a tragedy, but one of errors, not malice:

But it is one of the more preventable human mistakes in the disaster portfolio. If mass gathering places are designed with physics in mind, than the prerequisites to panic should never develop. People will not feel potentially trapped, helpless, and alone. They will just feel crowded.

The author goes on to point out that the problem lies in the design of the space and the management of the crowd. Communication between the organizers and the crowd is also important. Perhaps more forethought needs to be put in place when stores expect large crowds.


Blogger uncle ken said...

Cities and congested areas are a catalyst for this sort of tragedy. The fundamental force may be our flawed attachment to stuff. Standing outside in the cold and dark waiting for a door to be unlocked to get a deal on the most evanescent form of gratification, consumer goods, is nuts. Yeah I have done it too. No more.

It's not the crowds; our enemies are all within. Sorry for using so much bandwidth this AM, I am Chatty Cathy :-)

11:05 AM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

uncle ken,

I agree that a city is just the catalyst--I didn't have time to go into the psychology that allows some people to care more about getting a bargain on a Walmart shirt than about the welfare of their fellow human beings. I do agree that the enemy is within.

BTW, aren't most bloggers and comments "Chatty Cathys?"

11:54 AM, November 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Walmart selling that is worth a person's life?

12:03 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

It's 5AM and dark, Wal-Mart has done quite a bit of marketing about their predawn sales today, there is an excited crowd, and inside the store there are a bunch of bargains. That could have happened anywhere.

Perhaps the blame lies with the store, expecting minimum wage untrained store clerks to deal with the excited masses who have worked their way into a frenzy while standing in the cold night air. If Wal-Mart is going to hold this sort of event, they should hire security personnel, the kind that work with stadia and large outdoor events.

12:07 PM, November 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the worker "went John Galt".

12:54 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger uncle ken said...

Wal-Mart may be well advised to hire additional security for the 5 AM Black Friday crush, dunno what minimum wage has to do with it. If minimum wage laws worked as advertised why not just make it $50.00 an hour? We'll all be rich!
We just saw an election won on the precept that wealth can be redistributed, as if there was only a finite amount and impoverishing the rich will make the poor wealthy. The same flawed thinking imbues flatscreen TVs, iPods and Furbys with magical powers to bestow happiness.

1:19 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Factory said...

Well, Helen, it was a MAN on the floor. Who cares about those?

1:29 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger smitty1e said...

The Shopping Godz require human sacrifice.
Will the one be enough to save the economy, or will traditional methods, e.g. war, be required?

1:45 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


There was also a pregnant woman who was hurt who ended up having a miscarriage so it seems that this crowd wasn't concerned with who they hurt.

1:55 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Sio said...

Sad but I'm not surprised.

There is an outlet shopping mall near Portland here that opened at 11pm last night, I guess to get a jump on the others.

I happened to be driving back from family near Portland at 1130pm. Eight miles out, on I-5 there is a traffic sign warning of a "slowdown" and all thru traffic to stay in left lane. They weren't kidding, as about 3 miles out the right lane was at a crawl and the mall was packed as I drove by it at 40mph. North bound wasn't much better. I was surprised at how busy it was given the economy but also surprised in how orderly it was traffic wise and that the left lane was still mostly open and moving (3 lane interstate at that point).

2:15 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

Well, Helen, it was a MAN on the floor.

Obvious joke: How much for the doormat?


3:07 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

Well-- everyone knows that the majority of those crazed shoppers were--- women. I talked to some Walmart clerks a few days back who told me they had seen fights break out between women because " I saw it first ! ".
A SALE sign for women is the greatest aphrodesiac there is-- with many women rating shopping as better than sex.
For men, its like there was a neon sign--
" Jessica Simpson Live !-- Nekid and Willing "

On a lighter note--
Reminds me of a funny column I read many years ago about feminine psychology-- a columnist wrote about how his sister thought she saved money by spending it.
Seems getting that dress that usually sells for 200 for 75 is such a great deal, she saved 125 dollars! No , he reminded her, you spent 75 dollars-- probably money you would not have spent, but for the SALE... but to many women ... you save money by spending it.

Course-- if they are fighting over that nice tool set for hubbie for Christmas-- I say, go for it...

3:17 PM, November 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For herding sheople through spaces..

.. call Temple Grandin.

She's been designing stockyards, loading ramps and restraining systems for years.

3:51 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Well, I think this is just an example of the third-worldization of America. For decades the left, primarily, but increasingly the right as well has been trashing traditional values or not defending them. This is the result.

In a first world country, civility is the rule. When a store holds a sale, people congregate peacefully, shop and buy things.

In a third world country, incivility is the rule. When a store holds a sale, people riot forcefully, break doors and trample innocents to death.

I have been witness to the complete dissolution of America in my lifetime.

4:34 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Factory said...

It's still a great commentary on the extreme narcissism of modern society (read:women).

Sorry if it sounds sexist, but it's what things look like to me...and you know what they say about perception and reality.

5:09 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

The pregnant lady didn't have a miscarriage, she went to the hospital for observation.

5:15 PM, November 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it all happened in a rush to help China sell more goods. Think of it as a reaching out to our neighbors and friends.

5:24 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

I wonder how accurate this story is. The press can't report so many other things right, why assume the facts reported here are correct? (Especially given the obvious hostility of the press toward Walmart.)

6:31 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Jennifer Stites said...

Joe, I think you are right about the press.
But I think the original idea of creating a marketing event has gone a little far and could easily be managed by making different categories of goods available at sale prices at different times during the weekend. Toys at 5am, laptops at noon, TV's at 3pm, etc. Easily done with computer pricing.
I realized that this shopping frenzy is an Event several years ago when my college aged children who were home for the holiday weekend all woke up early to BE THERE. They loaded buggies with computers, TV's, games and raced through the store in competition with each other. Then they put it all back. Yeah, I thought it was crazy, too. (I did not go with them.) But does show it's not all about the bargain.

9:37 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Mike said...

I remember my wife telling me about something similar happening where she grew up. It was a rural town, and one woman nearly beat another into the hospital over a $30 DVD player at Wal-Mart.

10:08 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Arcadia Iris said...

I've known for years that I just don't shop like most women I know, and this is a situation I simply cannot understand. I hate having to buy new clothes, including shoes, and I'm not a "window shopper"... I only go shopping when I know what I intend to buy. I may pick up a few extra things that I see while I'm out, but "a few" is three or four, not twenty or thirty. And those things have to be noticed while I'm going from point A to point B. I don't wander through areas of a store that I didn't need to go through already. I view shopping as a chore, and it is not something I do for fun with a group of women. I will wait for some things I intend to buy to go on sale, but I don't go out and look around for something to buy when a store has a sale, and I don't buy things that are on sale that I don't want simply because, "It's on sale! You can't beat that!"

I don't understand why so many people would want to crowd into a store just because it's been advertised that they'll be opening early and have things on sale. I don't understand why it's so important to get the first (insert frivolous junk here) off the shelf. I do blame the individuals involved. I blame them for allowing their minds to be taken over by the shopping frenzy. I can tell someone something is a rare deal and a limited offer, and that everyone important will take advantage of it and only a moron would miss out, but it's still their choice in the end. Wal Mart has never given me the impression that they care about their shoppers the way they claim they do, but Wal Mart didn't force those people into being a herd of shopping cattle.

10:24 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger . said...

A man will spend $2 for an item he needs, even if it is only valued at $1.

However, a woman will spend $1 on a $2 item she doesn't need.

And still, despite all of the affirmative actioning of women into preferred education and employment, hypergamy and court supported financial rape of men still plods forward because who ends up being the most financially secure (and targeted)?

Does anyone really still spend $1 on gas to cash in their $0.25 coupon on a can of Campbell's soup?

Sadly, I think they do.

The psychology of consumerism is actually quite fascinating.

Sadly, it can also have quite tragic consequences.

It's sad that human life is so poorly valued that people would just rush by in order save a measly buck. We don't even pick up pennies anymore and I think nickels are clamoring for eqaulity, so... really... there is far more to that scenario than saving a buck...

But then again, we are talking about a civilization which just sold it's freedom to a fascist bank bail-out plan, out of fear of losing a few thousand bucks of their personal savings.

Yes, I know they protested, and then they shut up when Congress & Paulson called their bluff, didn't they?

Consumerism at its finest, eh?

Who is John Galt?

10:37 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I sure am glad I took my son and some of his friends snowboarding. The crowds on the slopes were smaller because of the crowds in the stores. The slopes apparently were safer too. No deaths.

11:06 PM, November 28, 2008  
Blogger Alex said...

I'd be interested knowing the racial makeup of the crowd. Inquiring minds want to know.

4:37 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Alex, I went Wikipedia to find out. It took me less than 20 seconds to answer your inquiry regarding Valley Stream:

"The racial makeup of the village is 92.79% White, 1.46% African American, 0.15% Native American, 4.86% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, and 2.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.27% of the population."

7:13 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger OreamnosAmericanus said...

Cham, your data is irrelevant. Note pictures of the actual crowd taken by one of them with a cell phone. Not white. Black.

8:05 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger george3 said...

Alex, it's primarily minorities that shop at that mall. There is also a big gang presence too, and I personally do not know one white person who'll go to that mall for ANY type of shopping.

SAVAGES - period.

8:23 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

Alex, USMale, and george3--

Being a typical male, I usually like the 3 stooges, but you're not the 3 stooges I'm talking about liking.

This random tragedy is a simple failure of anticipating the need for better crowd control. This is what happens occasionally when someone who makes $28,000 a year is in charge of handling something out of the ordinary.

Coming just after Thanksgiving, I'm less tolerant than usual about this level of stupidity. I dealt with enough stupidity Thursday. I just want leftovers now.

If you 3 Archie Bunker wannabes are the best that white supremacy has to offer these days...

9:33 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

In California, there was a shoot out at Toys R Us. Motive not identified in the news story.

10:18 AM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger tomcal said...


As someone who hates shopping (I'll walk out of a store if I perceive the lines at the chechout register) I can't imagine anyone lining up at 4 in the morning, and get so wrapped up in it that thay are literally willing to kill to buy an X-Box. Isn't all this junk cheaper after Christmas anyway?

Is there anyone out there who can explaind this psychology to me? I would no sooner go shopping on Black Thursday and I would spent a kight standing naked in the snow.

Re. the incident down in Palm Desert, while the details are still sketchy, it appears that two women got in some sort of a fight over a toy or something, their boyfriends, husbands - whatever - came running to the rescue, each man pulled a gun and they shot each other dead. It is believed that the two men knew each other so it may be more gang related than black friday related.

I just hope that they were carrying the guns illegally - without the required permits. I can't imigne that they did (testing and training to qualify for that privilege in this sate is quite rigorous) but if one actually did had a permit, it will put lot pressure on the few of us who have been granted licenses.

I really am interested in the Psychology of this idiotic behavour. My daughter is home from college with a friend for the weeked and they were ready to head out at 4 yeaserday morning to participate in the fun. Fortunately I persuaded them to stay home.

12:42 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger tomcal said...

The racial makeup in the Palm Desert incident, given the names, was probably hispanic, although Palm Desert itself is predominantly white.

Correction to my above post, I meant to say: "I'll walk out of a store if I perceive the lines at the checkout registers TO BE TOO LONG".

12:51 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

Michael Lee

Like Snidely Whiplash, the condescending Know-nothing devotee Michael Lee swoops in to lecture us on tolerance-- and provides an excellant example of what he claims to condemn-- prejudice and stupidity.

The racial make-up of the crowd is an empirical question. Why not answer it ?
Michael Lee doesn't want us to know that fact, because it , by definition , is irrelevant on ideological grounds. Talk about bias and stupidity.
In a conlusory "explanation" meant to foreclose inquiry, Sir Michael informs us that the incident was " a random tragedy" because of a "simple" lack of crowd control. Forgive us, Michael , if we investigate the actual circumstances of what happened before deciding what did, in fact, happen, on political grounds.

Race as a variable relevant to behavior is off-limits to Michael-- and he tries to impose his blinders on us all in the name of PC. No thanks-- see Phillipe Rushton-- Race, Evolution and Behavior or Michael Levin's Why Race Matters-- if Michael decides to allow you to read them.

The surveillance tapes will eventually be made public... and the question can be decided then.

One wonders why this particular Walmart outlet needed "crowd control" of this magnitude and why such events aren't repeated at the many other Walmart outlets across the nation.

Based on a couple of sources
-- the police were called in at 3 :30 am for crowd control...
-- at 4:55 am the crowd broke through sliding glass double doors, shattering them and "the shrieking mob surged through" trampling and killing a man--
-- the NYT raises the race issue obliquely-- the outlet was "less than 2 miles from NYC's southeastern border, draws customers from Queens, Brooklynn and the densely populated suburbs of Nassau County" ( sounds like 'densely populated " is a euphemism .)

2:37 PM, November 29, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, lovemelikeareptile and would like to add that Michael Lee is setting up a kind of straw man.

He has these images of Archie Bunker etc. and the image of himself as a cool, tolerant dude.

The problem is that he is shoehorning other people into the role he wants them to be in, and he also isn't displaying the traits he wants to have (to fit his hero role).

I'm getting so tired of self-proclaimed heroes, whether tolerant heroes who are better than YOU, life-saving heroes who would jump in immediately in a problem (although they haven't yet), or other self-important geniuses, saviors and all-round swell guys and gals.

Maybe it's just a phase.

5:29 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well stated, lovemelikeareptile.

5:39 PM, November 29, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The theory is all (to certain people). If the sun is posited to revolve around the earth, any subsequent findings or calculations will have to be shoehorned into that fact. The theory must be upheld at all costs.

God forbid you just LOOK at the best data you have and think about reality on that basis.

5:39 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

jg --

Don't let yourself become jaded to that fact that there are those who actually practice what they preach. They exist.

5:42 PM, November 29, 2008  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

The photos taken by cell phone by someone at the scene before and during the assualt show the "mob" to be exclusively black, as far as I can tell.
These photos are posted on the NY Daily News site as USMALE stated-- and can also be found elsewhere on the Internet.

Why has their been no mention of the obvious fact that the people who broke down the doors at Walmart and trampled a man to death-- and then continued shopping, refusing to leave until compelled by police -- was a " mob " of black "shoppers" ?
The media have decided to withold the facts, feeling the truth might fuel "racism".

2:12 AM, November 30, 2008  
Blogger emarel said...

Not surprising to me, as walking into any Wal-Mart is like entering the Third World. Stampedes like this happen all the time there...

1:18 PM, December 01, 2008  
Blogger nilson said...

I was involved in the early 90's in a Best Buy black friday 4 am opening: There was almost a riot between two factions: Nigerian and Chinese, competing for very inexpensive laptops. There is a downside of big city multiculturalism. I think it is a statement of fact that there were almost no whitebread Americans present, of any race or ethnicity. I was there as a cab driver who had been hired to stand by with my meter on.

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