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Another Way: In Tribute to Jdimytai Damour, Trampled Walmart Worker

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Editor's Note: Jdimytai Damour, 34, of Queens died during a stampede of around 2,000 shoppers at the Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, Long Island, (New York) after customers broke open the doors at 5 am on Friday.

Several months after The Who concert stampede in Cincinnati in 1979, I was traveling outside the U.S. and had the opportunity to go to a very popular performance. A group of us wanted to go. We were told we would have to get in line many hours before the show started, and that each person could only buy two tickets. It sounded like half our group was going to have to wait in line all day long, or we'd have to take shifts or something. But a few of us decided to head down to the box office early in the day to check out the situation. When we got there, we were surprised to see only a couple of people waiting outside the doors. We approached them to get in line. They said to us, "You're numbers 12, 13 and 14." We had no idea what they were talking about, so they explained: They were going to leave now. We were to wait until the next people came, tell them they were "15" and so on, and then we could leave. We should return about 30 minutes before the performance, get in line by number, and then we could buy our tickets and go in. "Come on," we said. "We may be Americans, but we're not stupid. Do you really expect us to believe that?" They insisted that this was how it was done. They left. We waited a few minutes until others arrived. We told them their numbers. They were clearly expecting this. We left. When we returned half an hour before the performance, hundreds of people were lined up. We walked to the head of the line, saw the people who'd told us our numbers, saw the people who had arrived after we did in the morning, and got in line between them. Because each "number" was good for two tickets, there were about 25 people ahead of us in line. The box office opened, we got our tickets, and went in. I had had friends who'd been at The Who concert, though none of them had gotten hurt. I've remained moved by this story ever since, and this week I'm again reminded: there is another way. What country was I traveling in, you ask? Cuba.


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Emily Levy is a long-time social change activist much of whose work now focuses on election integrity in the U.S. Emily leads workshops and coaches individuals and small groups on "Transforming Good Intentions into Powerful Social Action." Emily (more...)
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