We value your support now more than ever.

All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

An e-mail sent out to the third district police listserv has touched off quite a debate pitting neighbor against neighbor, resident against cop! Everyone wants to prove their street cred. The subject: What is the meaning of those random pairs of shoes that dangle from trees and telephone wires around the city? Here are a few recorded conjectures:

The marking gang territory theory: “It’s gangs or crews marking territory, similar to graffiti, using sneakers, usually taken from a rival gang member and strung up on light posts or telephone poles. It is important that they be removed quickly…Usually, a certain style of shoe will identify what organization one is affiliated with.”

The street memorial theory: “[Kids hang] shoes on telephone lines to honor the memory of a deceased friend who they held in high regard. Not every little neighborhood kid is in a gang or a crew.”

The identifying drug houses theory: “And in some realms it’s meant as a sign that drugs are available at whatever house they were in front of…”