In my last post, I reviewed the events leading to the killing of a Wal-Mart worker at the company’s Valley Stream Long Island New York store, when shoppers tore down the doors of the store, stampeded inside and trampled to death one man, as well as injuring several others including an eight-month pregnant woman. Part Two of this post deals with what should be done about this crime, in the immediate and much larger sense.
What has happened to us as a country, as a people? What kind of culture have we descended to, and when did this kind of savagery and numbing down of our country begin? Twenty to 25 years ago, an incident like this would have been front-page news- and justifiably remained so for several days. It would have provoked gasped shocks across the country. Upon hearing news like this, people would have held their hands over their mouths, in shocked disbelief that Americans could act this way. Now? It’s seemingly nothing extraordinary. As a nation, we have become numb to violent acts like this; numb to civility that has dropped to an all-time national low in this country. Nothing shocks us anymore. Most people see this in a newspaper, and turn the page; if they see a ten second piece on TV they click to another station. “Wait! Isn’t there a re-run of “Deal or No Deal” on now? Yeah, put that on!”
Understand something: This “stampede” was not a scenario where starving masses in a war-torn area mobbed a food supply truck. We’ve all seen those images, from Bosnia and Darfur, and similar points all over the globe. However ugly, such desperate, unregulated behavior like that can be explained by the primitive desire to survive, the will to live, by human beings in desperate, life-threatening circumstances. The circumstances that existed here? $25 off the price of the latest Blackberry.
That store was a crime scene; the site of a possible murder, or manslaughter in the least. The store should have been sealed off, no one should have been allowed to leave as all persons inside thsat store were potential suspects, and the names, identities and statements of every shopper inside should have been recorded, before anyone was released from that store. If this process took a full day, that is what should have been done. The security tapes should have been confiscated immediately, and witness statements collected from everyone available, including all store management on site. All this should have been done to pursue as aggressive an investigation and prosecution of this death as humanly possible.
If for no other reason, this should have been done to widely publicize a message to an uncivilized country that behavior like this won’t be tolerated anywhere – that savages like the people who committed this act, will be put behind bars. Does anyone think this savagery would happen again in the future, if authorities made a just and visible example of this event now? Does anyone doubt that people would think twice of ever doing this again if the savages who did this were now behind bars, awaiting trial? In contrast to the aggressive response that the Valley Stream, Long Island police should have taken, it appears that they didn’t know what to do, nor who to approach as suspects. Shamefully, no criminal charges have yet been filed against Wal-Mart, either. I believe that in the least, Wal-Mart should have been charged with criminal recklessness, in not taking advanced security measures in the hiring of adequate numbers of armed guards, whether hired as detail assignments from the local police department (as many department stores do) or hired from a private security firm. Based on this type of violence witnessed in the past with similar midnight “deep discount” sales at Big Box stores, Wal-Mart could not have been unaware of the risk it was creating. As a practicing criminal law attorney, I believe a cogent argument can be made that Wal-Mart, in holding and promoting this “deep discount” or “Black Friday” sale, exercised criminally reckless disregard for the safety of everyone in that store. At the very least, the Nassau County District Attorney, or the New York State Attorney General, should investigate this possibility.
Next: Political leadership Amidst An Increasingly Criminal Environment