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In Orlando, Another Melee Caused By Shoes

Police hold back crowds near The Florida Mall in Orlando, Fla. late Thursday.
Rerinhold Matay
Police hold back crowds near The Florida Mall in Orlando, Fla. late Thursday.

Last night at midnight, Nike released a pair of expensive glow-in-the-dark basketball shoes. And as has happened before for big shoe releases, a melee broke out among the hundreds of people who waited outside of an Orlando, Fla. mall to buy them.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the release of the shoes was timed with Orlando's hosting of the NBA All-Star Game and by 9:45 p.m., police in riot gear were called in to control the crowd.

The Sentinel adds:

"Witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel that the crowd was asked to wait across the street when the mall closed at 9 p.m., but one person made a mad dash toward the Foot Locker where the shoes were to go on sale, and hundreds followed.

"'I saw hundreds of people running toward me. I thought I was going to get trampled,' said Amanda Charles, 20, who was among a group of a half-dozen friends who drove from Jacksonville to try to buy the glow-in-the-dark Nikes.

"Witnesses said more deputies quickly arrived, decked out in riot gear and fortified by still more deputies on horseback, on motorcycles and in patrol cars. A helicopter with a spotlight hovered overhead."

The shoes in question are Nike Air's Foamposite One "Galaxy." They have a black trim with an image of a purple galaxy wrapped around it. The wow factor is that the shoes are a limited edition and the outer sole glows green. They retail for $220 but ABC News reports that this morning a pair was listed on eBay for $70,000.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, Thursday night's melee is just the latest over shoes.

"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," the paper reports.

All of this led the website Kicksonfire.com to launch a "Stop Violence Over Sneakers" campaign.

Update at 5:59 p.m. ET. Footlocker Suspends Events:

Because of the issues at the Orlando store, Footlocker canceled events at six stores across the country.

"Our priority is the safety of the community," Footlocker said according to the AP.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.