Fact Check

Was a Man in Bear Costume Arrested for Tearing Apart Tents of Black Friday Campers?

You'd think this kind of thing couldn't happen in urban areas.

Published Nov. 25, 2018

Image courtesy of Reddit
A photograph shows a man in a bear costume being arrested for tearing apart tents of Black Friday campers.

In the last few decades, Black Friday (the derisive name bestowed upon the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S.) has morphed from a busy sales day marking the start of the holiday shopping season to a spectacle driven by retailers' aggressively advertising substantial bargains on popular merchandise in order to drive as many customers into their stores as possible.

Among the now-familiar yearly scenes engendered by the aggressive advertising approach are brawls taking place as customers fight over discounted merchandise and shoppers lining up outside stores (sometimes up to two weeks early) to get first crack at Black Friday deals.

The phenomenon of Black Friday bargain-seekers sleeping overnight in parking lots and sidewalks has been spoofed in many ways, including a popular online graphic that posits a news story about a man being arrested for terrorizing Black Friday campers by dressing in a bear costume and tearing apart their tents:

This graphic is just a spoof and not documentation of a real-life event, however. The "MAN IN BEAR COSTUME ARRESTED FOR TEARING APART TENTS OF BLACK FRIDAY CAMPERS" headline has been used with satirical articles and the output of "make your own news" prank websites, both forms typically accompanied by an ordinary news photograph of tents set up outside a store:

The tent picture and its fictional backstory was eventually combined with an unrelated photograph from 2014 showing a man in a polar bear costume being arrested during Flood Wall Street, an environmental protest staged in downtown Manhattan:

For now, urban Black Friday shoppers remain safe from being terrorized by pranksters sporting ursine garb. No one is necessarily safe from digital manipulators armed with bear pictures, though.


McCarthy, Tom and Amanda Holpuch.   "Flood Wall Street Climate Change Protest Holds Ground in Lower Manhattan."     The Guardian.   22 September 2014.

Stewart, James B.   "A Black Friday Campout."     The New York Times.   21 November 2014.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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