Ferguson protests focus on retailers for Black Friday

November 28, 2014, 2:49 PM UTC
Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

A group of African Americans, including some Hollywood power players, are calling for a retail boycott on Black Friday in a movement that is gaining traction on Twitter and other social media channels with the hashtag #BlackoutBlackFriday.

The boycott comes less than a week after a grand jury declined to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed African-American teenager in an encounter that occurred in August. That controversial decision, which meant the officer wouldn’t face criminal charges in the case, led to protests in Ferguson and other parts of the country as many Americans lamented the fairness of the U.S. justice system. The family of the deceased teen, Michael Brown, and their supporters had hoped that the officer would face charges in the case.

A group leading the call for a boycott on Black Friday was called “Blackout for Human Rights.” The group said its first action to help raise awareness for their cause was to make Black Friday “a nationwide day of action and retail boycott.”

Demonstrations reportedly occurred at Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) stores in the St. Louis area.

Media outlets have reported the boycott was led by many African American artists, including Hollywood actors and directors. Actors Jesse Williams and Michael B. Jordan, as well as filmmaker Ryan Coogler and business entrepreneur Russell Simmons, are reportedly among those that are calling for a mass boycott.

Americans spend more than $50 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend, and the holiday season is critical for many retailers in terms of profitability and sales for the full year.

And while African Americans make up around just 14% of the total U.S. population, they are an important group in terms of consumption. African-American consumers have buying power of about $1 trillion and as a group, they reportedly make more shopping trips, watch more television and read more financial magazines than any other group, according to recent research published by Nielsen in collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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