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Black Friday violence due to shopper desperation, expert says

Several Black Friday sales across the country sparked violent incidents on Nov. 25, including a mass pepper spraying and a pair of shootings. These episodes sound shocking, but at least one expert is not surprised, given the pressure advertisers put on people to "win" the shopper's paradise of sales that takes place the day after Thanksgiving.

There were incidents in seven states that received national media attention. According to CNN, the most serious violence took place in a Walmart in Los Angeles. A woman in a crowd of people trying to get at X-Box video game consoles allegedly took out a can of pepper spray and sprayed others in the crowd. Around 10 people were exposed to the spray weapon, though no one was seriously injured.

Despite the alleged spraying, the woman was able to take her purchases to a cashier, pay and leave the store without being apprehended. A police spokesman said investigators hope to track down the suspect using surveillance footage from the store.

In another shopping-related confrontation on Black Friday, an attempted hold-up led to a person being shot in a Walmart parking lot around 1:45 a.m. Local police had a suspect in custody. Other incidents included a fistfight in yet another Walmart, and a man arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct - in still another Walmart store.

What is it about Black Friday that seems to bring out the worst in people? A psychologist interviewed on CNN believes it is not entirely the shoppers' fault. He pointed to the huge sales and advertising that encourage people to become very competitive, often to the point where decorum goes out the window. "I think people are whipped into a frenzy, physically, psychologically," the psychologist said.

Source: CNN, "Violence mars Black Friday," Nov. 25, 2011

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