Black Friday shopping is a ruthless combat sport. Really, it's dangerous, and now that stores have begun sales as early as 10 p.m. on the night of Thanksgiving or at midnight on Friday, there's even more opportunities to get physically assaulted, maimed, or just have your feelings hurt. Many but not all of this year's most ridiculous (reported) incidents occurred at Walmart stores. Refer to this recap of the 2011 Black Friday violence when considering whether to head out to a sale next year that will probably begin at 9 p.m.:
- A woman accused of using pepper spray to ward off other shoppers from a just-revealed Xbox display at a Walmart in California has reportedly turned herself in to authorities. The woman unleashed the chemicals at around 10:20 p.m. on Thursday night, injuring about twenty shoppers. “It was a burning feeling in my throat for me," one victim said. "There was a lot of people who got it in their eyes. They were burning, they were screaming, crying." Nothing a 10 percent off coupon can't fix, though.
- At another Walmart, in Connecticut, police used a taser to subdue a man who got into a fight with another customer while waiting to purchase video games. A boy was knocked to the ground during the melee, and shortly after police stepped in.
- Another fight broke out in an electronics department in, yes, a Walmart, in Rome, New York, less than five minutes after the store opened on Friday morning. A man was arrested and two women were taken to the hospital.
- Occupy protesters got mixed up in the mayhem, too. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, an Occupy protester dressed as zombie — to mock the consumerism of Black Friday — was arrested for refusing mall security's request to remove the facial makeup. The mall bans outfits that obscure a person's face.
- In another Connecticut Walmart incident, a 32-year-old man was tased by police at 12:15 a.m. after cutting about twenty people on line and refusing to get to the back. Police then commanded the man to the back, he refused, and so they zapped him for breaching the peace. Very little angers people more than line cutting.
- In North Carolina, an off-duty police officer pepper-sprayed Walmart shoppers who were fighting over heavily marked-down smartphones. One person was arrested. The cost of the fine will likely exceed the savings on the phone.
- Elsewhere, people got robbed at gunpoint and carjacked in at parking lots, and not only at Walmart stores.
- Lest you think that there were no fears of more widespread violence: Bomb threats were made at Walmart stores in Colorado, Missouri, and Arkansas.
Walmart deserves an opportunity to address this Black Friday madness. "Except for a few unfortunate incidents, we've heard positive feedback from customers and our associates going through the biggest shopping day of the year,'' said spokesman Greg Rossiter, who was unsure whether this year's incidents were more pervasive than in years past. This much is certain: 2011 is now officially the year of pepper spray.