Activists urge a boycott of Black Friday in solidarity with Ferguson

A protester blocks police cars in Ferguson, Missouri on Nov. 25.
A protester blocks police cars in Ferguson, Missouri on Nov. 25.
Image: Reuters/Adrees Latif
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While US retailers are flooding social media with plugs for the latest Black Friday deals, activists angry about the failure to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager earlier this year are using that same space to urge a boycott of the big shopping day.

Using the hashtags #BlackOutBlackFriday, #HandsUpDontSpend, #NotOneDime and #BrownFriday, Twitter users across the country are showing solidarity with the cause.

Some of the initiatives were launched earlier this month, but efforts redoubled after Monday’s grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

One such push, “No Justice, No Profit” was started by the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition in Ferguson. The group has been calling for supporters not to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, or to shop solely at black-owned businesses, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The coalition also plans to march through shopping malls in silence and prayer on Black Friday, according to a local Fox News affiliate.

Blackout For Human Rights, led by the filmmaker Ryan Coogler, is spearheading another national effort, focusing on social media outreach. “Major retail chains depend on our shopping to keep them afloat, especially during the holiday season,” the group’s representative, Michael Latt, told Forbes. “But the lives of our brothers and sisters are worth more than the dollars we can save on holiday gifts.”

Activists want to use the collective purchasing power of African-Americans, valued at 1.3 trillion dollars, as leverage during the boycott.

Blackout For Human Rights produced a chilling video showing police brutality against black Americans, set to the soft voice of Andy Williams singing the holiday classic It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

The hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday garnered 11,000 mentions on Twitter as of Thursday morning, popularized by African-American celebrities, including hip-hop icon Russell Simmons, actors Kat Graham of Vampire Diaries and Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy.

#HandsUpDontSpend is closely following #BlackOutBlackFriday with over 7,000 tweets, promoted by the Baltimore-based pastor Jamal Bryant.

Bryant made his call last week with a nod to another crucial civil rights moment in the United States, the Montgomery bus boycott organized by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bryant called the tactic ”one of the most critical principles and practices that our people have ever employed to bring this corrupt establishment to its knees.” The year-long boycott led to the Supreme Court banning bus segregation.

“Since Montgomery, we haven’t had a clear economic agenda,” said Bryant. “Until now.”