This as thousands of residents flocked to the Smith Haven Mall to accumulate bags full of the best deals on the hottest consumer goods, the Occupy Black Friday demonstration protested the commercialization and corporate control of the holidays.
Standing curbside in front of the entrance to the shopper's paradise starting at noon and extending for the next several hours, Occupy protestors rallied. Every few seconds a car horn would honk approvingly at the approximately 75 people holding up signs and peaceably protesting as part of the demonstration held in solidarity with Occupy sites across the nation.
The Occupy Long Island rally included members of the Suffolk Peace Network, along with various peace and justice organizations and members of Long Island groups that regularly hold rallies and meetings in support of the grassroots Occupy movement that has spread like wildfire across an increasingly disillusioned America.
Protester Terri Scofield, 52, has been an activist in Suffolk County for the past 25 years. She wore a cardboard sign inscribed with a paraphrased quote by American author Edward Abbey, which encapsulated the unified group's overarching philosophy: "A Patriot must always be ready to defend her country from her government."
"Whether it's corruption on Wall Street or corruption in Suffolk County it all costs us money," she said. "I'm tired of it. The collusion between business and government has gone too far, and we're taking our country back."
One of the youngest, and most vocal, demonstrators was Dana Sausa, 17. She recited the Declaration of the Occupation, which was approved by consensus on Sept., 29 2011 at the New York City General Assembly in Occupied Liberty Square. It included the statement, "We must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies."
As Sausa recited each line, the entire group chanted it back verbatim and in unison, in the call and response format, which they did with an almost religious fervor, as each person had something to share. This is a tradition carried over to Occupy sites across the country, and taken from Zuccotti Park, the site of the longtime encampment in Lower Manhattan. It is known as the "people's microphone." This rudimentary amplification system began in lieu of megaphones or PA's where the police forbade their usage.
Sausa, a high school dropout and self-proclaimed "poster child for the movement" feels that her parents and the school system have failed her.
"By being here I expect to root out some misconceptions people have," she said, "[such as] that this isn't affecting them by shopping at these corporate conglomerations."
Also on hand were Verizon workers from a local store, for them this was just another typical day. A handful of workers were in front of the mall protesting as usual. They have adopted the "99 percent movement", since several employees are incensed that the billion-dollar company has been stripping them of their union benefits.
Hauppauge resident Mary Ann Murphy, 57, explained the significance of gathering in front of the mall on the biggest shopping day of the year.
"Black Friday represents conspicuous consumption, and shipping jobs overseas," Murphy said. "We're not lemmings; we're human beings. For me it's a lot of what it's about. Think about what you're doing, don't just do it because of corporate advertising. This is about consciousness raising."