Homeless Hired to Stand in Line at Pasadena Apple Store’s iPhone 5S Launch, Marred by Scuffles

Sep 20, 2013 2:02pm

As long lines formed outside Apple stores across the country today, tempers flared at one in Pasadena, Calif., where homeless people from Skid Row said they were bused in and paid to save spots on line — only to be denied their compensation.

“They came by and they said they needed people to sit in line for the opening of the new i[Phone]5, and would we be willing to do it, and I just heard it and I came down and said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Mickey from downtown Los Angeles told KABC.

“I’m here, got nothing else to do. It’s my husband’s birthday so it’s money,” she said.

Heather told KABC that she and roughly 80 to 100 others from Skid Row came to the Apple store. They were to wait in line all night and promised $20 in exchange for each iPhone claim ticket they gave to an anonymous businessman. Apple allowed customers to buy only two phones per person on launch day.

KABC interviewed the man who hired the homeless people to stand in line for him. “I buy phones and I resell them,” the man said. “For how much? A lot more.”

One homeless man interviewed by Rich DeMuro of KTLA Morning News said he was promised $20 per phone but was miffed he hadn’t been paid.

Mickey also said she wasn’t paid. “All I know is we sat here and now we’re not being paid.”

“Allegedly the man did not pay some of the people he hired to stand in line,” Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson told ABC News.  ”They were angry at him and surrounded him.” Police on scene escorted him around the corner away from the angry crowd that was trying to claw and grab at the man.

About 200 people were waiting outside the store through the night, Clawson said, noting that officers had been dispatched to patrol the crowd. Apple also hired their own private security for their store.

Other people in line complained about the situation. Dariel Johnson, who said she had been waiting in line overnight said, “It’s a lot of drama, almost fighting. So, it’s an unpleasant experience.”

Minor scuffles broke out at the store overnight and two men were arrested, said Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson. George Westbrook, 23, of Compton, and Lamar Mitchell, 43, of Pasadena, were arrested for fighting in line outside of the store, Clawson said.

The Skid Row recruits weren’t the only ones who were hoping for a pay day for waiting in line. Joseph Cruz, 20, and Brain Ceballo, 19, were paid $800 to wear shirts from a company called SYM.com (Sell Your Mac), after being first in line outside Apple’s iconic Cube store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Elsewhere, in Boca Raton, Fla., members of Delta Tau Delta at Florida Atlantic University, sold their spots in line for $100 each. The money will go to their fraternity’s national philanthropy, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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