Pepper spray used as new Air Jordans go on sale

Nike's latest Air Jordan basketball shoe triggered pre-Christmas stampedes in shopping malls across the United States, resulting in several arrests, police and local media reported.

In Tukwila, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, police used tear gas to tame around 2,000 people who surged into the local mall in the early hours of the morning to get their hands on the coveted Air Jordan 11 Retro Concord.

"I've been doing this for 15 years and I've never seen such a large crowd and such an unruly crowd,'' Officer Mike Murphy of the Tukwila police department told AFP by telephone.

Crowds gathered at 2:00 am at the Westfield Southcenter mall, two hours before four stores inside stocking Nikes opened for business, by which time two doors had been broken, he said.

"They were fights starting to break out, some people trying to push, some people trying to get ahead in line, and that resulted in fights,'' he added.

"Officers used pepper spray to disrupt some of those fights.''

One man was taken away after punching a police officer in the mouth.

Similar scenes were reported in California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

In the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, Georgia, at least four people were arrested, including a woman who left her two children in the parking lot to join the queue outside the store, local television station Fox 5 reported.

Every year, Nike puts out limited-edition versions of the original Air Jordan high-top that it first released in 1985 with the endorsement of Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan.

On Nike's website, this year's slick black-and-white edition for men sells for $180 dollars with free shipping. Smaller sizes are available for toddlers, pre-schoolers and grade school pupils.

Spokesmen for Nike could not be reached for comment, but on the New York stock exchange Friday, Nike closed at $96.90 a share, up 2.19 percent from the day before.

On, Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords were going for buy-it-now prices ranging from $349.99 from a Hong Kong seller to $1,000 from an eBayer in Dubuque, Iowa who promised to throw in the original store receipt.


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