Shoppers and protesters combined to make Black Friday 2017 as wild as any other year in the US. Violent incidents in Alabama, St. Louis and Houston set the stage for the rowdiest shopping day of the year.
Shoppers got an early start on Black Friday deals Thursday night at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama. However, it wasn't long before fights broke out between overeager shoppers trying to scoop up the hottest items at the lowest prices. The commotion subsequently prompted the mall to close at 11:20pm instead of midnight, the Alabama Media Group reported.
The Hoover Police Department responded to the galleria after 11pm because of at least one fight in a store on the mall's second floor. Reports of gunfire surfaced on social media, but authorities said the reports were never confirmed, and no one was shot. Hoover Police Lieutenant Keith Czeskleba said Friday authorities believe the noises that were reported as gunshots were just the sound of fireworks being set off, Alabama Media Group reported.
One unnamed witness told WBRC that someone in the mall hurled a shoe over a railing, striking an infant.
Reports emerged that several arrests were made following the incidents, but the Hoover Police Department denied the reports, according to the news outlet.
Czeskleba added that the people engaged in the fight “were separated and identified by officers” after police arrived at the scene. No one was arrested, and the individuals involved in the confrontation were treated for minor injuries by paramedics.
On Black Friday, one man was shot and another stabbed during an afternoon fight at Willowbrook Mall in Houston, Texas, according to police, KPRC reported.
The incident was first reported at 12:30pm in the parking lot of the mall, and police said an altercation preceded the shooting.
An unnamed witness told KPRC she heard the argument and hid behind a tree.
"One witness said that she saw two Hispanic males get into a confrontation, she heard a gunshot and at that time she hid behind a tree to protect herself,” Sergeant Richard Rodriguez, who serves as a detective with the Houston Police Homicide division said.
And an unnamed detective told KPRC2 there is surveillance video of the area where the incident occurred, but it has not yet been reviewed.
Also on Friday, at the St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Missouri, a planned afternoon protest added to the chaos. The protest was announced in November by activists and African-American clergy, and focused on issues ranging from bank loan practices to police treatment of black people, the St. Louis Dispatch reported.
The demonstration set the stage for several arrests, including the detention of Missouri state Representative, Bruce Franks Jr.
The protesters arrived at the mall just after 2pm, and walked through the complex chanting "Shut it down." Some stores inside the shopping facility pulled down their security gates and shut their doors, trapping shoppers inside in some instances.
Richmond Heights police responded and announced that the protesters had to disperse by 2:25pm, or police would start making arrests. The protesters continued undeterred, and when authorities went in to make an arrest, Representative Franks questioned the officers. The lawmaker was then thrown to the ground, and had his hands tied behind his back. Seven people were arrested. They were all handcuffed and lined up near a store on the mall's second floor.
Around 50 people, including members of the media and protesters, then came together in front of the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton, where the demonstrators were taken. Some of them vowed to remain there until the detainees were released from custody.
Across the US
Other Black Friday incidents around the country prompted users on Twitter to share violent exchanges they caught on tape.
One video shows a man being thrown into a display case in what is cited as a Kmart store.
And another video shows three men allegedly fighting over a toy car package at what is said to be a WalMart store.
Meanwhile, across the pond in England, Black Friday proved to be a little more subdued when doors opened at one store.