Police officers from Florida to Maryland and beyond have shut down local shopping malls and in some cases canceled the release of a limited edition sneaker, fearing that letting customers shop might get ugly and violent.
A number of news outlets have reported riotous crowds forming at shoe stores across the country in anticipation of the new Nike Foamposite Galaxy 2012, a shoe with an extremely limited production of only 2,400 pairs. Only a few malls and stores around the country were lucky enough to get pairs of the shoes, which meant that hundreds and in some cases thousands of people queued up outside places like The Mall At Prince George’s in Maryland and the Greenwood Park Mall in Indianapolis. Police officers assembled to watch them just in case things got out of hand the way they did during similar shoe launches this holiday season. Prince George’s Footlocker actually shut down to prevent the massive crowd outside from fighting each other over the shoes, and decided to reschedule the Foamposite release for another time when police can come up with a better safety strategy.
But perhaps no one took this more seriously than police in Orlando, who responded to growing crowds outside Florida Mall’s Footlocker by putting on riot gear and loading the parking lot with huge numbers of officers.
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.
“We were afraid of the cops and the horses,” said Mario Torres, 22, of Orlando.
The deputies formed a line and used shields to push back the crowd, witnesses said. They said the deputies threatened to use pepper spray but did not.
But the fact that they felt it was necessary to roll so deep with so much ammunition to prevent people from fighting each other over a pair of shoes still astounds us, even if we appreciate their attitude that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Check out the (slightly more civilized) rush for the shoes in Maryland, below.