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'Shoefiti’ leaving footprint on telephone, hydro lines

From The Era-Banner on Thursday, May 24, 2007:

By: Joan Ransberry, Staff Writer

Look up, look way up.

That's where you can spot shoes in Aurora these days.

Not knowing how the sneakers got there or what sneak put them there are part of the worldwide shoe tossing phenomenon called shoefiti.

Aurora marks the first shoefiti sighting in York Region and, on the heels of this news, Mayor Phyllis Morris is getting wired about it.

"But I'm not about to summon the shoe police," Ms Morris said.

"I think (shoe tossing) is a lot of high spirit and a lot of high throwing."

Shoe tossing -- the act of using shoes as improvised projectiles or weapons -- is part of a number of practices.

Today, it is commonly the act of throwing a pair of shoes on to telephone wires, powerlines or other raised wires.

A related practice is shoe tossing on to trees or fences. Shoe tossing has been observed in areas of the United States, Canada, including Aurora and in Vancouver and Winnipeg, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico and Ecuador.
The only constant about the culture of shoefiti is that nobody can know who strung up the shoes.

Rule No. 1 -- shoes must be strung over power lines in the cover of darkness to maintain the mysteriousness of the culture.

Not convinced the unusual sightings are merely a teenage prank, residents of an upscale subdivision in the UK recently suggested its meaning was far more sinister.

The Brits' concerns didn't go unnoticed.

Some say shoes hanging from the wires advertise a local crackhouse where crack cocaine is used and sold. Others claim the shoes so thrown to commemorate a gang-related murder, the death of a gang member or as a way of marking gang turf.

While some police forces, including Toronto's, laugh at any suggestion shoefiti is drug-gang related, others aren't so sure. The question remains: Is it a warning sign from gangs to rivals to keep off their turf?

When it was pointed out the shoes symbolize the possibility of drug dealers marking their territory, it worried Aurora resident and blogger Michael Suddard.

"Was Aurora going to pot around the intersection of Yonge Street and Murray Drive?" Mr. Suddard wrote.

After much research and thought, Mr. Suddard is hunching the trend is harmless.

"Why would drug pushers run around hucking shoes so precisely so that they land perfectly over the power lines?" he said.

"It makes no sense."

Instead, Mr. Suddard prefers to invest his time trying to figure who came up with shoefiti.

"Was it some kid who was picking on his younger brother by tossing his shoes in the air and they just happened to land on power lines?"

The culture of shoefiti sparks a lot of questions and only a few possible answers.

But, the big question remains, what on Earth does it mean?

In the Arab world, shoe flinging is a gesture of extreme disrespect. A notable occurrence of this gesture happened in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. When U.S. forces pulled down a giant statue of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, many Iraqi detractors of Hussein threw their shoes at the fallen statue.

On thing is certain, shoefiti is spreading. There are now several blog entries, websites and YouTube videos dealing with the culture of shoefiti.

To investigate further, visit


Michael Suddard’s Blog entry on Shoefiti being quoted by the author of the above article.