Sneakers to Die For

Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 2/29/2012, 9:48 p.m.

When 14-year-old Briel Palmer heard recently that Nike was about to begin selling Foamposite Galaxies, she said she really wanted to be the proud owner of a pair of the popular and very select sneakers. So she planned to ask her mother if she would buy her a pair.

She knew that if she walked into Dwight Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel, Md., sporting the $220 sneakers, her popularity would skyrocket and she would be the envy of all her friends. But there's a catch.

"So many people like them, everybody likes them," said Briel, "I wanted a pair but decided that it's not worth my life. I asked my mom but a lot of people have died over the lime greens."

Briel said she and her friends follow the releases of new sneakers closely and estimate that new ones come out probably every other month.

"(But) different colors come out once a year, which is why they're jumping people to get them. People were getting killed for Concords," Briel said during an interview Monday. "The last pair they released was two days ago. I go online and see the release (date), and talk to friends. Some of my friends are saying they aren't buying them. I had a friend who bought a pair and didn't wear them for two months until the popularity cooled down."

Too High a Price

Last summer, 21-year-old Leonard Smith-Matthews was stabbed to death at the University Town Center in Hyattsville, Md., during what witnesses described as a brawl that began over a pair of Nike Foamposites. Matthews allegedly went to the aid of a friend who was being robbed and someone stabbed him and four other people.

Last Christmas, fights and disturbances broke out in stores across the nation days before Christmas. And just last week, according to local news outlets, hundreds of people stood in a long line, some for days and others for hours, at The Mall in Prince Georges in Hyattsville.

The prospective customers were there hoping to snag the new Nike sneakers that were supposed to go on sale Friday morning. When the manager announced that the Nike Foamposite Galaxy would not be available, some in the crowd started acting out and more than 100 people refused to leave despite being ordered to do so by police.

Shoppers who descended on the Downtown Locker Room on Minnesota Avenue, S.E., last Friday, Feb. 24 were similarly disappointed.

For much of the past 20 years, announcements of the release of new editions of sneakers by Nike, Inc., and other sneaker manufacturers have sparked a frenzy among the adoring faithful, leading to scenes of people standing in line for days in front of shoe stores in the hopes of securing the sneakers which are released in limited quantities. In cities and communities across the United States, children, teenagers and adults have been killed, beaten and robbed for their sneakers. It is not uncommon for fights to break out or for buyers to be waylaid and relieved of their prizes.

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