SANTA ANA, California—Making an effort to inform shoppers about corporate greed and political contributions, Occupy protests were held at WalMarts nationwide on 25 November 2011.
The protests even started earlier in the week as Orange County’s chapter of the group, Occupy Orange County (OC), specifically protested the early opening hours WalMart and several other retailers held in order to maximize profit on the busiest shopping day of the year-Black Friday.
Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving, kicking off the Christmas shopping season. It is commonly known as “Black Friday” because it is the day retailers consider themselves “in the black,” or actually making profit.
The Occupy OC protesters believe that WalMart owners, who might have been at home with their families on Thanksgiving, are maximizing profit at the expense of WalMart employees who had to leave their families to go into work as early as 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
Occupy OC is part of the larger Occupy Movement that started with protests in New York City and San Francisco in September 2011, influenced by pro-democracy protests earlier this year in the Middle East and North Africa.
Along with the Occupy Movement’s physical stretch, even spreading to cities internationally, its demands are wide ranging. However, it has been reported that the protesters are calling for economic and social change.
“The underlying theme in the Occupation Movement is that large corporations and major banks have become corrupt and greedy, making large profits off the backs of the average American,” according to an Occupy OC issued statement. “The heads of corporations pay themselves huge bonuses while continuing to cut the labor force as well as wages.”
Occupy OC also took issue with WalMart’s history of political contributions from elections campaigns to lobbyists, funding mostly Republicans.
As WalMart has locations all over the United States, the early hours and Occupy protesters are not exclusive to OC.
In fact, Occupy OC is acting in solidarity with Occupy groups nationwide who called 25 November 2011 “Blackout Black Friday” or “Don’t Occupy WalMart.”
New York WalMart, local WalMart
Ms. Jeanine Mucci, an employee at Plattsburgh, New York’s 24 hour WalMart told the Viễn Đông that she thinks stores should close by 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving to allow people time to enjoy the holiday.
However, she does understand that the shopping attached to Black Friday is “part of American culture.”
Ms. Mucci did not have to go into work on Thanksgiving night, though she is familiar with the process the store goes through to accommodate early shoppers.
“We’re so money hungry, we have to be open,” she said, adding that she spoke with a manager from another 24 hour WalMart in Long Island, New York about their early opening process.
Ms. Mucci said that the store was closed to customers at 9 p.m. It was opened again at 10 p.m., though only allowing 100 customers in at one time.
This process began after the 2008 death of a Long Island, New York WalMart employee who was trampled by shoppers eager to begin their bargain shopping.
As shoppers can outnumber discounted items, such an incident is unfortunate though not unlikely.
Back in Santa Ana, California’s WalMart Superstore, the mood around 10 a.m. was busy, though not chaotic.
One employee, Mr. Eduardo, told a customer that things had died down, but when he ended his shift at 3 p.m. Thanksgiving day, there were people with tents already camped outside.
When Mr. Eduardo started his shift at 3 a.m. on Black Friday, every cash register was open.
He made no mention of the Occupy OC protesters and there were none in sight, though there were many other retail stores open, with profits to maximize and customers to inform.