Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's with all the shoes on wires?

You see them everywhere. But what does it mean, all of those pairs of sneakers hanging by their laces over phone, cable, and power lines? I used to see it a little in Arizona but I see them everyone here in LA. It's been really driving my crazy lately so I decided to do some research and figure out what it means.
From the little research that I’ve done, a pair of sneakers draped over power lines is a sure sign of gang or drug activity in that exact location. However, a couple of high school kids recently showed in their science fair project in a Pennsylvania city that this is not likely, as they matched known drug and gang activity with where sneakers hanging on power lines were found, showing that there was no correlation.

But the urban legend of gangs and drug dealers marking their territory with a pair of sneakers dangling from these lines is so entrenched, that drug dealers and gang bangers themselves may possibly think they need to do this to follow proper etiquette. If I was going to start selling drugs, would I want to alert every cop in the neighborhood that this was my intent by hoisting a pair of my old Nikes up in the wires?

Well, most people are divided on the issue. A website that debunks urban legends suggests its believed that tennis shoes hanging from utility lines designate "gang territory" or a location to buy street drugs. But most official police gang unit say that it does not have information suggesting that is true at all.

So maybe it means nothing. Maybe there is no gang activity or drug dealing in the area. But it does mean something. Someone, somewhere is without a pair of shoes today. : )

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