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In Orlando, another crowd riots over ... a pair of sneakers

February 24, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • What some people would do for a pair of Nikes.... Here, shoes are displayed Jan. 12 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
What some people would do for a pair of Nikes.... Here, shoes are displayed… (Adek Berry / AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from Atlanta — What exactly is it about this country at this particular point in time -- what weird mix of postmillennial economic jitters, commodity fetishism, hype, boredom, bad manners -- that is causing people to freak out and riot over basketball shoes?

The latest in a wave of sneaker-related melees occurred Thursday at Orlando's Florida Mall, where hundreds of people rushed a Foot Locker in hopes of scoring a pair of limited-edition $220 Nikes.

Orange County sheriff's deputies clad in riot gear used shields to block the crowd and threatened the use of pepper spray, though it wasn't ultimately used, according to a report by Susan Jacobson in the Orlando Sentinel.

More than 100 officers were needed to calm things down. No one appears to have been hurt in the incident -- though it left more than a few people quaking in their boots.

"I thought I was going to get trampled," one woman told the paper.

Jacobson noted that it's been worse in recent months for other sneaker fans gone wild. The recent release of a special Air Jordan shoe resulted in a stabbing in Jersey City, N.J.; a crowd breaking down doors in Lithonia, Ga., outside of Atlanta; and similar incidents in Richmond, Calif.; metro Seattle; San Antonio; Charlotte, N.C.; and other cities.

Thursday's hubbub stemmed from the planned release of a glow-in-the-dark shoe called the Nike Galaxy Foamposite that apparently didn't happen. Furqan Khan of the sneaker-fetish website kicksonfire.com Thursday wrote that with "tensions escalating" over the limited availability of the shoe, the site was issuing a "Stop Violence Over Sneakers Campaign."

One big reason for the excitement was the fact that the shoes will likely fetch top prices on Ebay. For Khan, the online shoe-scalper is a particularly contemptible creature whose greed has come to distort an innocent hobby.

"In the sneaker world, there are two types of people, sneakerheads, and people that solely try to make a profit off of sneakers," Khan wrote. "Any REAL sneakerhead would agree that people who buy kicks just to resell them at outrageous prices are messing up the shoe game. We’ve seen the Nike Air Foamposite One 'Galaxy' up for sale already at prices that range anywhere from $1200 – $3000."

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