December 17, 2014 / 7:23 PM / 3 years ago

Ohio police use pepper spray on crowd lined up for Air Jordans

TOLEDO, Ohio (Reuters) - Police used pepper spray on Wednesday to disperse an unruly crowd of about 300 people lined up at a mall in Toledo, Ohio for a chance to buy new Air Jordan sneakers.

People began lining up in front of Franklin Park Mall around 3:30 a.m. for tickets passed out by employees of Finish Line, a national shoe chain. The ticket allowed them to buy the Nike Air Jordan Retro 11 Legend Blue, which goes on sale for $200 on Saturday.

"It got pretty crazy," said Toledo police officer P. A. Tatum.

Police spokesman Sergeant Joe Heffernan said the pepper spray was used at about 5:45 a.m. after people pushed down barricades and several officers were knocked to the ground.

December sales of the latest Air Jordans, which are released in limited quantities, have perennially been a source of crowd-related problems at stores around the country.

During the weekend, nearly 50 law enforcement officers were called to a Houston mall after people waiting for their chance for a ticket to buy the shoes got rowdy, according to the KTRK television station, an ABC affiliate.

A representative of Nike's Jordan Brand said in a statement that consumer safety is of paramount importance to the company.

"We continue to work with our retail partners to share best practices and refine our launch process to improve the buying experience for our consumers," the statement said.

"We encourage people wishing to purchase our products to do so in a safe and respectful manner."

Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh

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