Video: Black Friday Action at Wal-Mart

Here is video footage from Occupy Ann Arbor’s Black Friday Wal-Mart action. Read the account we posted from one of the participants in the action.


Black Friday Surprise at Wal-Mart!

The following is a report by a participant in Occupy Ann Arbor’s Black Friday action at the Saline Wal-Mart.

We were briefed beforehand. “If a police officer talks to you, you only need to say two things: ‘I am exercising my right to remain silent’; and ‘I want to talk to my lawyer.'” Our legal observer instructed us about what to do in the event that cops showed up.

It was agreed that the 20 or so of us would cross US-12 on foot, walk into the Wal-Mart parking lot, split off into smaller groups, and enter the store. After over a week of planning, we were ready to unleash our little Black Friday Surprise on a bunch of unsuspecting Wal-Mart shoppers.

We picked out the precise location a few days earlier: we’d go to the women’s clothing section and wait for a designated person to shout “mic check.” We’d pull out the people’s mic and read off from a script that we had written together, outlining the various ills perpetuated by Wal-Mart, from the outsourcing of labor, to the killing of local economies, to discrimination against women workers.

Two of us went to the store earlier in the week to do a little recon work and map out the store. The plan was to enter through each of the store’s two major entrances. We had the women’s section mapped as the place where we to assemble and do the people’s mic. Women’s clothing was a prime spot, right next to the checkout lines, the perfect place to grab attention.

In the parking lot, me and one other person broke off from the group. Walking inside, we passed the Salvation Army guy, then proceeded straight to women’s clothing. Walking through the bra section, a woman from our group crossed our path and with a wink and nudge pretended to be a stranger: “What are two men doing in the bra section?” A little inside joke. In the moments leading up to “mic check,” it was difficult to contain the simple joy of being in on the secret we were about to let loose.

Moving into position, we pretended to look at merchandise. Then it came.

Mic check.

The rest of us repeated.

Mic check.

Our legal observer pulled out his notepad and green National Lawyer’s Guild cap.

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers.

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers.

Our script continued.

“We are here to acknowledge that low prices, come with a high cost, both locally and globally.”

It wasn’t long before folks started to crowd around. A bald-headed manager walked to us tried to get us to turn off our cameras. But he couldn’t do anything. He told us to stop. “It’ll take a minute,” was all we told him.

At one point during the action, someone walked to one of our camera operators. “Get a job,” the person said. “We all have jobs,” our camera operator replied.

We got to the end of the script without incident. “To the employees of Wal-Mart, please know you are not to blame, know that you have a voice, you have the power to take a stand, and know that we are the 99% and stand behind you.”

In the planning of the action, there was much deliberation over what kind of message we wanted to communicate. We wanted to emphasize that Wal-Mart employees are the 99%, that we stand in solidarity with them, even as we take a stand against Wal-Mart’s exploitative practices. When we broke out the people’s mic, those who worked at the registers simply stopped and lent a friendly ear.

We left in peaceful glee. A couple of us thanked the managers for letting us speak. “We love you,” a couple of us said to the crowed.

As we exited, we saw a Pittsfield Township police officer enter the store. In the parking lot, one of us shouted, “Show me what democracy looks like.” We chanted back, “This is what democracy looks like.” We danced and skipped along our merry way.

November 18 Inter-Occupation Meeting Notes

The capstone to yesterday’s Tribal Summit was the 7pm Inter-Occupation General Assembly. Thanks to Lynne from Flint for taking notes during the meeting and sending them in to us. The next Inter-Occupation event will be Saturday October 3 at Occupy Lansing. There will be a Direct Action to be followed by a meeting. Stay tuned for more info on the event. Please email us at if you are interested in adding to or amending these notes.

Attendees came from

Occupy Flint, Occupy Ann Arbor, Occupy Lansing, Occupy Detroit, Fenton, “Wanderer”, Occupy for All (Ann Arbor), Occupy Alpena, “Occupy America”, “Wherever the fuck I am”, “from the hood”


Occupy Ann Arbor

  • Tonight warming shelters benefit for the homeless
  • Black Friday direct action in a big box store
    • Planning tomorrow at 1pm and Tuesday 6pm
    • Can’t discuss details, but the action will be sick
  • There will be an inter-occupational dance party Dec 10th in Ann Arbor
  • Occupy UM: first GA on 30th: This is a group of UM students

Occupy Lansing

  • Peace makers
  • Good place to use your connections
  • Mayor, police, and fire dept support Occupy Lansing
  • Occupy Lansing is excited to unify tribes so that we can take control of our country from the bottom up
  • Will also doing black Friday event
    • Silent protest in meridian mall
    • Walking around with signs and maintaining silence
      • Communicating with signs
  • Occupy Lansing is a good place for the next Tribal Gathering, as it is closer to occupations on the west side of the state

Occupy Detroit

  • The city wants Occupy Detroit out in time for the Thanksgiving parade
    • Thanksgiving parade coming up
    • Need to be out by Tuesday
    • Occupy Detroit is trying to get another week extension
    • Breaking down camp and looking for places to stay for those who have no where to go
  • Dec 5th connect with Occupy Washington
  • At Detroit general assemblies, people do Occupy Detroit silkscreens on clothing free of charge.
  • Slowly progressing and improving
  • Library, school, and UAA unions, city council, etc. are backing Occupy Detroit
  • Some folks are acquiring an indoor space to be used as regional/national outreach center for visiting occupiers to stay and working groups to gather

Occupy for All

  • Occupy for all is an Interoccupational group based in Ann Arbor
  • The group started up, went live and hit Facebook hard doing outreach
  • O4A is a travelling group and is looking to anywhere it can to help out
  • O4A is working to coordinate resources between occupations, including bringing bodies to events
  • Organizing a statewide action
    • Huge event where all come in force
    • Thinking that this will be in Lansing b/c that’s the capitol (but not definite yet)
    • Nationwide bulletin, where folks can call, text, email in to update re: occupations
  • Brought buttons along, and would like to donate a button maker to Occupy Flint
  • O4A exists for all Occupations
    • Occupations are encouraged to send people to O4A meetings in Ann Arbor
    • Collecting supply lists for the various occupatons in MI
    • Creating Michigan-wide calendar so all occupies know what is going on everywhere
  • Web presence
    • (There’s a link to the temp WordPress site there)
    • (Send info to this address, including events to add to calendar)
    • PLEASE! Send events to Occupy for All calendar! (Urgent events are in red on the calendar)
    • On social media (Facebook, Twitter)
    • Send “all hands on deck” notification to O4A when bodies are needed for emergency actions (Alerts goes out on Twitter and other social media)

Occupy Alpena

  • Just getting started
    • Support from teachers union
  • First public action was on Nov 11
  • There is a temporary occupation downtown, people stayed Sun-Mon overnight
  • No support from city council, mayor etc. yet
  • Do have support from unions and other orgs in area
  • Can protest on sidewalk, but not within the park
  • No webpage yet
  • Still trying to figure out what to do as a group
    • There is an emphasis on community action
    • Raising awareness downtown is still important; need to maintain presence there
  • Haven’t had first GA yet
  • A lot people want to go out, but some people are too scared
  • Alpena is facing a number of hardships
    • “Smell of Alpena” due to factory on north side of town, which is where people live due to low-cost housing
    • Also Wal-Mart came to town 15 years ago
      • This made local businesses close down. No small business can compete with Wal-Mart

Occupy Flint

  • Occupy Flint thanks everyone coming out and protesting in solidarity with Occupy Flint today
  • The camp has been here for 5 weeks today
  • Originally core group meeting up offsite (Riverbank Park) for planning
  • The group was initially not sure if Occupy Flint was going to be a weekend thing or a real occupation
  • Started at rock-bottom with unstable tents, rain, and WIND
  • Turned into solid occupation with amazing, beautiful people
  • “This is a family that we’ve built here”
    • “Trust, love, and solidarity here”
  • Everything we do we do together with general consensus
  • Solidarity is built through everything from living together to a mutual frustration with the government
  • Awesome donations and nonstop fun
  • Morale is the number one priroity
  • Jason is the tech guy (with headlamp on), he is a freak about solar power
    • “Thank him b/c he’s awesome and will spread the tech to all the occupations so they can get off the grid”
  • Sustainability is incredibly important at Occupy Flint:
    • Solar, winterization, wind power, etc
  • 24 hour security and legal
    • The camp practices open-carry
      • “It’s about freedom”
      • “This is all for your protection”
      • Signs posted about armed security
      • If Occupy Flint went to other camps, they would respect any firearm-free policy
  • Media team
    • Created literature and flyers
    • Would like to build solidarity with other occupations by sharing literature
      • Occupy Flint can give other occupations any literature they want and can even modify materials to suit other occupations
    • Those who videotape this meeting, please send video of it to Kat and she’ll put it on the Occupy Flint Livestream
    • Communication security and privacy
      • The web is monitored and censored, so we can’t trust it
      • Ham Radio
        • Would like to promote the use of ham radios by Michigan Occupations
        • Occupations are all over, we can use ham radio to send messages around the world that won’t be disturbed
        • If interested in setting up ham radio, talk to Jerin or Jason
        • Ham radio can send data across as well (images, docs, etc) that can’t be traced or read
    • Internet and Freedom Towers
      • Occupy Flint would like to set up an alternative internet network
      • A freedom tower is a big tower that sucks in internet and gives it out for free
        • Talk to Dave to learn more
    • Occupy Flint would like to spread awareness about SOPA
      • Intellectual property act
      • It is really about censorship
        • basically same thing that China and Iran have
    • Those willing can give Jake name and number after to stay in touch with each other

Future Inter-Occupy Events

  • Detroit has indoor facilities that would be good for future event
  • Getting people from the west side of the state to come is difficult if we have meetings in Detroit (Lansing is the farthest west people came tonight)
  • Lansing is a good place, as it is in the middle of the state and can attract people from more occupations
    • We could use main tent or library auditorium for summit meetings
  • If money is an issue, Detroit may be able to help pay for gas to next summit
  • The group reached consensus on the following points:
    • That inter-occupy meetings will be biweekly
    • That there will be an Direct Action at each summit
    • That we will vary days when summit is held (alternate between weekdays and weekends)
  • We can use inter-occupation coordination to help build camps and bring lots of bodies to help them
  • For the biweekly events:
    • Host city will play large role in planning, but be in open communication with everyone
    • Occupy for All website can include an interoccupy forum
    • Ham radio can also be a key for this type of communication
      • Cost is about $50 to get started
      • There is interest in ham radio workshop
    • Having indoor would be great for inter-occupy meetings: it’ll be really cold really soon!
    • The idea was put forth that there should be 2 people from every occupation staying in touch with each other. Each occupation can let their own groups know what’s going on so that we don’t have tons of people throwing ideas out
      • Someone noted that this sounds like a spokes council
      • Somone suggestes that if we have delegates, that what the deligate says should be officially approved by the home occupation of the delegate
      • The concern was brought up by someone from Lansing that because Occupy Lansing is a leaderless movement and that appointing delegate is contrary to the spirit of being a leaderless movement
    • After considering the idea of appointing delegates, the group reached consensus that anyone who is interested in attending summit planning meetings may do so.
    • Consensus was reached that next summit will be in Lansing on December 3.
      • There will be a direct action
      • Tentative plan is that folks will arrive at noon for solidarity action
      • There will a 7pm inter-occupational GA
      • Further details will be solidified later. The December 3rd summit will be brought up at next Lansing GA and then relayed to other occupations
    • Detroit, Flint, and Occupy for all can transport people
    • It was suggested that all inter-occupies should be potlucks

Discussion of Upcoming Events and Possible Future Events

  • Occupy Flint is planning a Black Friday action
  • Occupy for All will have an Action Assembly in Ann Arbor this Monday
    • Discuss united black Friday action then
      • Going to need a lot of people
  • Kat from Occupy for All suggest taht people celebrate Marchmas
    • It’s like xmas, but in march
    • It is in the spirit of anti-consumerism
  • There was further discussion about Black Friday events
    • Someone suggested that BF events should have a theatrical element
    • “People don’t need to buy things for children to love them”
    • Someone from Detroit had brought up an idea for an Occupy Wal-Mart direct action
      • The idea is to act as a customer and fill up shopping cart, go through checkout lane, and then leave everything there. This will throw a wrench in the machine.
      • In response to this idea, the concern was brought up that something like this would make life difficult for the employees
        • “The last thing we want is to cause them heartache”
        • “Be positive and speak to people there”
        • “Build a connection instead of making a fuss”
        • “Show employees that you don’t think they’re a robot.”
      • Someone noted that Reverend Billy (who has visited OWS on multiple occasions) goes out with anti-consumerism theater
    • Someone suggested that Black Friday actions should promote shopping local.
      • Concern: “Do we really want to promote even local consumerism?” “Isn’t the very idea of consumerism the problem?”
      • Buy Nothing Day was mentioned, this is an anti-consumerist BF action
        • BND is “about loving one another and caring for one another.”
        • “It’s about coming together.”
      • Someone responded to the concern that promoting shop local promotes consumerism: “We need to take it one step at a time.” Maybe starting with support local business first will help our long-term goal of living in a non-consumerist society.
      • Buy Nothing Day:
        • Bank transfer day had a huge impact
        • BND could have a similar effect
      • Supporting local business doesn’t have to be a big occupy MI thing. We are all empowered to act autonomously.
      • Someone mentioned the 3/50 Project:
      • “Buy Nothing Day shouldn’t have stop people from buying local on other days”

Petitions to Stop Emergency Financial Manage Law

  • “Once manager comes in, voice of people silenced”
    • Manage can do anything he wants w/o permission from people
    • Can even dissolve city w/o going to voters
    • Can set aside union contracts
  • Make sure you sign the correct county’s petition
  • You can get some to take back to your occupation from Claire
  • Detroit protested at city hall yesterday against EFM
    • “We Have to stand up against it b/c it will happen if we don’t stop it”
    • Both signatures will be thrown out

Foreclosure Action

  • “Does anyone have experience in regard to occupying, holding down foreclosed properties?”
    • might be a good place to look
  • Flint has a lot of foreclosures and vacant homes and abandoned properties
  • “Can we use squatter rights to occupy houses legally?”
    • There are some in attendance who are researching that
  • There are precedents for foreclosure related actions:
    • People have done actions to block foreclosure evictions
    • There is the example of Atlanta police officer’s home that is being occupied
    • In Oakland, people tried to occupy an abandoned property, but police took them out very quickly: “Authorities are quick to come down on us when we’re doing something right”

Closing Announcements/Business

  • Occupy for All is talking about having a book drive to restock the Occupy Wall Street people’s Library
  • Lansing is having big Thanksgiving shindig. All welcome.
  • Announcement that after this meeting breaks will be music and open mic following GA
  • Raphael from Lansing read a poem.
  • GA adjourned!