On November 24, approximately 200 white nationalists and members of the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia’s Emancipation Park to protest Black Friday’s nomenclature. Charlottesville police were dispatched to the scene, but only after chief Al S. Thomas, Jr. could find enough officers that hadn’t asked for the day off to go shopping.
The origin of the protest can be traced back to a Facebook event page titled “White Friday rally,” where over 1,000 people had indicated that they were interested in the event. The description read, “Black people get so many holidays that celebrate them, but I don’t know a single one celebrating white people! Come out to our family-friendly event to help end this anti-white racism!”
The organizer of the demonstration was Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist. When asked about his motives, Spencer simply replied that he believed that the term “Black Friday” represented racial injustice.
“Don’t get the wrong idea, I like doing my Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving as much as the next guy,” Spencer explained. “However, something about the term ‘Black Friday’ has always bothered me. Why is it that in this great country, we title one of the best days of the year after a race of people that aren’t even from here? It just doesn’t make sense.”
At the rally, Spencer was seen standing behind a banner with the slogan “Make Friday Great Again,” shouting through a megaphone at anybody who would listen.
However, most Charlottesville residents expressed little interest in the demonstration. The majority of them were preoccupied with shopping, and there was largely no resistance.
“I don’t really know what to do about it,” Charlottesville resident Doug Reynolds reported. “I suppose that, in a way, I’m encouraging racism by not actively trying to stop them, but most people are ignoring them anyways. Somebody else can deal with them, I need to rush over to Best Buy.”
However, around 2 p.m. there was a small scuffle when a protester shouted racial slurs at a group of four Black teenagers walking past. When the teens proceeded past the protester without acknowledging him, the protester began to beat one of the teenagers with his “White Friday” sign. In response, the other three teenagers, after setting down their shopping bags, went to help their friend. After calling the police, two officers rushed over to break the two men apart – after handing their shopping bags to their fellow officers.
Mayor Michael Signer did not comment on the situation, as he was allegedly trying to pry a television from Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy in the middle of the Walmart electronics isle. On his behalf, his wife, Emily Blout said that the mayor “would not tolerate such protests,” before running off to help her husband secure their new TV.
Professor Peter Debaere of the economics department at the University of Virginia further ridiculed the protesters. “Few people seem to know now that ‘Black Friday’ refers to firms’ revenue charts for the day after Thanksgiving,” Debaere explained. “So many people would go out shopping the day after Thanksgiving, firms would start making a profit, and the red line on their charts would be replaced with a black one, indicating positive profits. The term has absolutely nothing to do with race.”
Locals said that they saw protesters come and go throughout the day. Many were also spotted returning to the park with several shopping bags. Even Mr. Spencer was spotted in the evening laden with packages. By early evening the rally had lost all footing, because nearly all of the protesters had gone back to shopping. Those who remained marched around town, chanting “White Christmas” at the top of their lungs.