Sales of new athletic shoe cause fights, arrests

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 23, 2011 5:38 PM
Sales of new athletic shoe cause fights, arrests

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Police in several cities around the country on Friday were called to stores to manage unruly shoppers seeking Nike's new Air Jordan athletic shoes.

In cities from North Carolina to Indiana to Washington state, crowds pushed, fought or rushed the doors to buy the black-and-white Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords, which went on sale on Friday, police said.

In Tukwila, Washington, a Seattle suburb, police had to use pepper spray to break up fights in a crowd of up to 2,000 people at the Westfield South Center mall, according to police spokesman Mike Murphy.

The mall had asked for two police officers for the sale, which started at 3 a.m., but got a much bigger crowd of shoppers than expected, Murphy said. Two entry doors were broken off. It took 25 police officers to subdue the crowd enough to allow people to buy shoes, Murphy said.

One man punched a police officer. "He did not get his shoes," Murphy said. "Instead he went to jail."

Murphy said the crowd left behind empty alcohol containers, and there was a heavy smell of marijuana in the air. "There was definitely a criminal element," he said.

In Indianapolis, there were incidents at three different malls around the city Friday morning, police said. One store saw a crowd of about 300, which broke a door down.

"We had a large crowd of teens trying to get into the store," said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Kendale Adams.

An Indianapolis television station, WRTV, ran footage of one incident. It showed young people stampeding into the store, a few losing shoes and jackets on the way in. There were no arrests and no reported injuries, Adams said.

At the Omaha Crossroads Mall, police reported that "a very large crowd became unruly," as crowds began pushing and fights broke out, according to Officer Michael Pecha, an Omaha Police Department spokesman. No arrests or injuries were reported.

Three Charlotte, North Carolina-area malls drew police presence, and one person was arrested, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Nike officials were not immediately available for comment.

A pair of the shoes sells for $180, according to the Nike website, but they are already being advertised on EBay with asking bids of as much as $605., an online sneaker magazine, has called the shoe "THE sneaker pick-up of the year."

Some scenes were more controlled. The Sports Seasons store in Nashville, Tennessee received 20 pairs to sell, and allowed one customer into the store at a time, said manager Marquis Porter. After a customer bought shoes, an armed guard walked the buyer back to his or her car.

"When I arrived at 7 a.m., we had 50 people waiting outside," Porter said. "I got out of the car and received a round of applause when I walked to the door."

As for those who didn't get shoes, "there were a lot of sad faces," Porter said. "But everyone respected the way we did it. This was the craziest release I've ever seen."

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, Colleen Jenkins and Tim Ghianni; Editing by Jerry Norton)