Latest Nike trainers spark riot as shoppers demand silence

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The Independent Online

It was not about race relations, deprivation or capitalism, but the riot still managed to leave one policeman injured, eight people under arrest and a shopping centre closed for the day.

The issue that exercised the people of Leeds so much was, in fact, squeaky trainers.

A BBC TV's Watchdog programme had claimed pairs of the new £100 Nike Air Max 95, which uses air bubbles as a cushion, had failed to lose an initial squeak, and left many viewers convinced they could exchange their shoes for a silent pair.

Dozens of customers arrived at the Foot Locker store, in the St John's shopping centre, on Friday clutching trainers - of all ages - and demanding new ones. Staff refused to comply, tempers became frayed and the police were called.

By noon the shopping centre was closed. Police said yesterday that of the eight people arrested, three - a boy of 15, a 20-year-old man and a woman in her twenties - had been charged with public order offences and assault and a 19-year-old woman had been charged with public order offences.

Foot Locker Europe, based in Holland, said a small number of the trainers had a manufacturing fault which had dislodged an air bubble, causing the squeaking.

"If people bring them back and it is found that the shoe is faulty we will replace them, but it doesn't mean people can bring trainers which are four or five years old," a spokeswoman said.

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