One person was killed and three others injured at a Long Island, New York Wal-Mart when the crowd of over 2,000 people crashed through the glass storefront doors just before 5 a.m. as management prepared to open the store to Black Friday bargain hunters.
Jdimytai Damour, of Jamaica, Queens, was pushed to the ground as hundreds stepped over, around and on the 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee as they rushed into the store.
"Nobody was trying to help him," said shopper Nakea Augustine, who was in the line. "They were rushing in the store, rushing, rushing, rushing."
Witnesses reported that shoppers were asked to leave by other store workers, some of them crying. Others ignored the pleas that they stop shopping, move to the front of the store and exit. Many just kept on shopping. The incident began when people who had gathered well before 5 a.m. in the rear of the line began pushing, cascading the people in the front into the sliding supermarket-type doors, which were literally knocked off their hinges, said Nassau Police Det. Lt. Michael Fleming.
This horrific lack of concern for another human being is more common than you might think. Social psychologists call it the “bystander effect.” Studies show that people are more likely to assist someone in trouble when they are alone, and a group of bystanders is less likely to render aid. The larger the group is, the less chance that someone will help. Some of the factors that may contribute to the bystander effect are degree of danger, not knowing what to do, embarrassment, and diffusion of responsibility.
In this day and age, many of us are hesitant about stopping to help someone because we may be putting ourselves in danger. This would certainly be an issue here for many patrons—it was a very dangerous situation—but it obviously wasn't a concern for others who chose to try to continue shopping and walking around the store. Embarrassment is no excuse. However, it is understandable that many of us would not know what to do to extricate ourselves when caught up in a stampede. But what about what caused the stampede in the first place? Greed and a general lack of concern for the safety of others are big contributing factors here for diffusion of responsibility.
Diffusion of responsibility is when individual members of a group are unwilling to take personal responsibility for their actions because the responsibility is shared by all. Therefore, the responsibility of each group member is lower than it would be for each individual. We have all seen this shameful behavior in cases of fan violence, riots, as well as acts of violence against individuals. "I can't stress enough how the onus is on them," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, the county police's chief spokesman. Wal-Mart has defended its security planning, saying it anticipated the large crowds, hired more personnel and put up barricades.
Social psychologists may call it diffusion of responsibility. In this case, I call it murder. Although it will be difficult to identify individual shoppers, every effort should be made to do so. Every single person who trampled, stepped over, or ignored Jdimytai Damour as he lay dying on the floor should be held legally accountable for his death.Tweet