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New Air Jordans provoke fights in U.S. stores; crowds gather in Ky. malls

The release of Nike's retro Air Jordans caused a frenzy at stores across the nation early Friday, with hundreds of people lining up for a chance to buy the classic basketball shoes and rowdy crowds breaking down doors and starting fights in some cities.

Police used pepper spray on about 20 people at a mall near Seattle, while officers arrested at least four unruly shoppers in suburban Atlanta.

In Kentucky, Lexington police Lt. J.J. Lombardi estimated 900 people showed up for the new shoes at Fayette Mall, and officers had to be pulled from three other patrol areas to make sure people didn't get out of hand. The crowds didn't dissipate until about 6 a.m. , he said.

Louisville police had to break up a fight among shoppers at Jefferson Mall when a store opened early and a gathered crowd rushed the door, The Courier-Journal reported. No one required hospital treatment.

And in Paducah, WKYX reported that about 40 people broke down the back door of a mall and went into a store about 20 minutes before it was set to open at 7 a.m. Police had to be called when the shoppers refused to leave.

In Seattle, where the most severe issue occurred, people started gathering around midnight at four stores in the Westfield Southcenter mall for a chance to buy the shoes, which retail for $180 a pair. The crowd grew to more than 1,000 people by 4 a.m., when the stores opened, said Tukwila officer Mike Murphy.

"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.

In Lithonia, Ga., at least four people were arrested at a mall after a crowd of customers broke down a door at a store before it opened.

It's not the first time the Nikes have caused an uproar. Some people were killed or mugged for early versions of the Air Jordan shoe, which Nike 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 them.

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.

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