Black Friday protest: French activists block Amazon warehouse

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Activists formed a human chain, lay on hay bales and dumped old fridges and microwaves outside Amazon depot
Activists formed a human chain, lay on hay bales and dumped old fridges and microwaves outside an Amazon depot

Dozens of French activists have blocked an entrance to an Amazon warehouse south of Paris to protest against the environmental impact of consumerism.

Protesters formed a human chain, lay on hay bales and dumped old fridges and microwaves outside the Amazon depot in Bretigny-sur-Orge on Thursday.

They also blocked lorries from passing through.

Police dispersed the activists, whose aim was to disrupt Black Friday sales.

In response, Amazon said it respects the right to protest but accused activists of spreading “false allegations”.

The demonstrations are expected to intensify the debate about the environmental impact of Black Friday, which some French lawmakers want to ban in the country.

Earlier this week France’s Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne warned against the “consumption frenzy” linked to Black Friday.

The shopping day, during which retailers claim to offer large discounts, began in the US on the Friday after Thanksgiving but has in recent years spread to other countries.

Why did the activists target Amazon?

Environmentalists have accused Amazon of accelerating climate change through its rapid delivery services, which they say contribute to greenhouse gases emissions.

Amazon ships around 10 billion packages per year, according to Reuters news agency.

To mitigate its impact on the climate, the US e-commerce company pledged to go net carbon neutral by 2040 by investing in electric delivery vans, among other initiatives.

Activists holding banners at a protest outside an Amazon warehouse
Image captionSome activists held banners which read: “Amazon: for the climate, for employment, stop expanding, stop over-production”

At Thursday’s protest, about 40km (24 miles) south of Paris, some activists held banners which read: “Amazon: for the climate, for employment, stop expanding, stop over-production”.

Where else are protests expected?

The blockade was part of the “Block Friday” demonstrations that are aiming to disrupt Amazon’s business operations nationwide.

More demonstrations are expected on Friday, with environmental groups threatening to turn November 29 into a “Black Day for Amazon”.

Activists block an Amazon centre in Bretigny-sur-Orge
Image captionDemonstrators are aiming to disrupt Amazon’s business operations across France on Black Friday

As of Friday morning, dozens of activists from various groups had gathered outside Amazon France’s facilities, including its headquarters in Clichy, north-west of Paris.

One of the groups, anti-globalisation movement Attac, said it will “take action across France to disrupt Amazon’s business”.

In a statement on Twitter, Amazon France said (in French) that it respects “everyone’s right to express their opinions” but disagrees with the means used by Attac.

Activists block an Amazon centre in Bretigny-sur-Orge to protest the company's impact on climate change
Image captionAmazon said it would continue to serve its customers despite the protests

“Amazon’s priority is to serve its customers and deliver on its delivery promises,” it said. “Our network is robust, reliable, and flexible, and we continue to deliver to our customers without interruption while ensuring the safety of our employees.”

Recent polling data carried by the Huffington Post does suggest the popularity of Black Friday may be waning in France.

A third of people surveyed by YouGov France said they were not planning to take part in this year’s Black Friday sales. A majority of respondents – 57% – said they believe Black Friday promotions are false.

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