Ferguson protesters vow to #BoycottBlackFriday: Effective or not?

A national boycott of Black Friday shopping in protest of the Ferguson grand jury decision is taking off on social media, with boycott supporters tweeting #BoycottBlackFriday#BrownFriday, and #HandsUpDontSpend. But some say #BuyBlack is a better approach.


After it was announced that a grand jury had decided not to charge officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death, riots swept the streets of Ferguson, Mo., where demonstrators rioted, looted, and torched businesses and vehicles in protest of the decision.

But a growing group of Brown supporters have taken to Facebook and Twitter to protest the decision in a different way – by boycotting Black Friday, one of the most important shopping days of the year.

The Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition has called for a national boycott of Black Friday in protest of the grand jury decision. The movement is taking off on social media, with boycott supporters tweeting using #BoycottBlackFriday#BrownFriday,  #DontRiotDontSpend, and #HandsUpDontSpend, a reference to the "hands up don't shoot" chant from Ferguson protesters.

"Until this nation begins to place value on black lives, there will be no value placed on this business because black lives matter," Boycott organizer Dacia Polk told a St. Louis radio station, as reported by Al Jazeera. The news site says that protesters also plan to walk through malls in silent protest.

African Americans' collective purchasing power is an estimated $1 trillion, according to Nielsen data, and boycott supporters want to leverage that. 

Even local institutions across the US are encouraging patrons to boycott the shopping day. On Tuesday, Atlanta clergy, led by Rev. Markel Hutchins, called for Atlantans to boycott Black Friday to protest the Ferguson decision.

“We will stand with the Brown family and with the organizers of similar efforts in Ferguson and around the county,” Hutchins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “History, most especially the civil rights movement, teaches us that only when business and commerce and industry are engaged in social conversation do we see massive social change. That is the point of our call for economic sanctions," he said. "For corporate America, Black Friday is such a profitable day. I don’t think anyone should underestimate the impact of our collective boycott on Black Friday,."

And of course, the movement took off on social media, with supporters across the country tweeting calls to action. 

Others shared their thoughts and reasons for supporting the boycott on Twitter.

But some have questioned the effectiveness of the boycott, including how a single day of not shopping would address the situation in Ferguson. Others said the boycott would also hurt black-owned businesses.

As a result, some have suggested protesters should shop at black-owned businesses only, rather than boycott Black Friday altogether. On Twitter, supporters even tweeted apps that located black-owned businesses.

Boycotters who hope to send a message by closing their wallets have precedent: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the Civil Rights movement, played a role in ultimately helping to end segregation.

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