SEATTLE (The Blaze/AP) — The sale of new Nike retro Air Jordans led to chaos in multiple locations across America. But it was in a Seattle, Washington, suburb that the situation appeared to be most out of hand.
Police used pepper spray on about 20 people at a Seattle-area mall, while officers arrested at least four unruly shoppers in suburban Atlanta. The list of cities where mayhem unfolded only seems to be growing.
ABC News has more:
Police were called to shopping centers in Indiana, Florida, Texas and Virginia among other states to control crowds of hundreds lining up for the shoes.
“I don’t remember anything like this in the recent past at all, definitely not with the iPhone or anything like that,” Linda Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, told ABCNews.com.
People started gathering around midnight at four stores in the Westfield Southcenter mall in suburban Seattle for a chance to buy the shoes, which retail for $180 a pair, Tukwila Officer Mike Murphy said. The crowd grew to more than 1,000 people by 4 a.m., when the stores opened, he said.
“Around 3 (a.m.) there started to be some fighting and pushing among the customers,” he said. “Around 4, it started to get pretty unruly and officers sprayed pepper spray on a few people who were fighting, and that seemed to do the trick to break them up.”
No injuries were reported, although some people suffered cuts or scrapes from fights. One man was arrested for assault after authorities say he pushed an officer.
“He did not get his shoes; he went to jail,” Murphy said.
Here’s a video report about an Indiana mall, where shoppers ripped a door off of its hinges:
In Lithonia, Ga., at least four people were arrested early Friday at a mall after a crowd of customers broke down a door at a store selling the Air Jordans before it opened.
DeKalb County police told Fox 5 Atlanta that up to 20 squad cars responded. Officers said they escorted most of the people outside but took four into custody.
Police also said they had to break a car window to get two toddlers out after a woman went in after the shoes. They said she was taken into custody when she returned to the car.
It’s not the first time the Nikes have caused an uproar. Some people were mugged or even killed for early versions of the Air Jordan shoe, which Nike Inc. created in 1985.
The shoe has been a consistent hit since then with sneaker fans. A new edition was launched each year, and release dates had to be moved to the weekends at some points to keep kids from skipping school to get a pair.
No one anticipated the hysteria around the original Air Jordan, which spawned a subculture of collectors willing to wait hours to buy the latest pair. But the shopping frenzy over the shoe had died down in recent years.
These latest incidents instead seem to be part of trend of increasing acts of violence at retailers this holiday shopping season, such as the shopper who pepper-sprayed others at a Walmart in Los Angeles on Black Friday and crowds looting a clothing store in New York.
A representative for Nike, based in Beaverton, Ore., was not immediately available to comment.
In Tukwila, Murphy said the crowd was on the verge of a riot and would have gotten even more out of hand if the police hadn’t intervened.
“It was not a nice, orderly group of shoppers,” Murphy said. “There were a lot of hostile and disorderly people. It was verging on a riot. We were on the verge of losing control of the crowd.”
About 25 officers from Tukwila, Renton, Kent, Seattle and King County responded. Murphy said they smelled marijuana and found alcohol containers at the scene.
The Southcenter mall’s stores sold out of the Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords, and all but about 50 people got their Nikes, Murphy said.
Hundreds of customers also lined up outside shoe stores in downtown Seattle and at a mall in nearby Federal Way.
In Portland, Ore., a line started forming Thursday morning outside the downtown Nike store for customers waiting for Friday’s re-release of the Nike shoe.
The Oregonian reported the Air Jordan appeal is only partly nostalgia for the former NBA star. Collectors known as “sneakerheads” save them for special occasions or never take them out of the box.