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An Activist Group Wants You to Boycott Black Friday Shopping to Stop Police Brutality

With a promotional video showing police beatings set to popular holiday songs, the group is asking people to make different plans for the day after Thanksgiving.

by Payton Guion
Nov 26 2014, 9:00pm

Photo by AP/Jae C. Hong

Millions of Americans spend the day after Thanksgiving — and increasingly their Thanksgivings — reveling in retail, cutting short the Thanksgiving holiday in order to take advantage of ubiquitous Black Friday sales.

This year, the activist network Blackout For Human Rights is asking people to make different plans for the Friday after Thanksgiving. The group is urging people to boycott Black Friday to protest unjust violence by police, mostly against minorities, in the US.

A video released by Blackout posted earlier this month shows graphic footage of police brutality, unnervingly set to Andy Williams' cheerful holiday song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

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"This holiday season show your worth. Help stop police brutality by $peaking a language everyone understands. Blackout Black Friday. Don't shop on Nov. 28," a message at the end of the video urges.

Blackout could not be reached on Wednesday for comment about the boycott.

The connection between Black Friday and police brutality might not be an obvious one, but the group's marketing director told Forbes that the timing of the boycott is a way to challenge capitalist powers in the US and to encourage people to do something more worthwhile than shopping on Black Friday.

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"We have witnessed enough. We mourn the loss of men like Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John Crawford and Michael Brown, who met their deaths at the hands of police officers," the organization says on its website. "We mourn the loss of life and the absence of justice for Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis, killed by private citizens, in a climate where police action demonstrates this as acceptable."

Blackout's mission is to end violence against and murder of all people, and using the popularity of Black Friday to spread its message could give the group a publicity boost. According to industry research, Americans spent $12.3 billion in brick and mortar stores and another $1.96 billion online on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2013.

Also likely helping Blackout's cause is a grand jury's decision earlier this week not to charge Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old black man Michael Brown, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting. The jury's decision not to indict Wilson, who is white, set off a wave of protests across the country, some of which turned violent.

Ferguson has proven to be a flashpoint on policing and race relations in the US, with many protesters have demanding changes to law enforcement conduct in the wake of Brown's killing, something Blackout also is pushing for.

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Follow Payton Guion on Twitter @PaytonGuion