To see a pair of shoes dangling on a power line is generally meant to promote a street gang, pinpoint a drug-dealing zone or to commemorate a life or death event. The precise meaning of a pair of shoes hanging in a particular location depends in every case. In some instances, students throw shoes on nearby power lines to celebrate a graduation or to grieve someone’s loss.
In many communities, one can see a pair of shoes swinging on power lines. This practice is called shoe tossing, and it is often spotted in urban areas or college neighborhoods throughout the world. There is no universal meaning for shoes hanging on power lines, but one is able to interpret the message depending on the location of the shoes. Some youth perform shoe tossing simply because they have witnessed others do it. For others, it is a symbol of a prime drug-dealing location, gang representation or death.
When shoes are hanging from telephone wires in an intersection, it is sometimes a sign that gang members are claiming the premises for themselves. It is also a symbol used to indicate hot spots for addicts to purchase the drugs they are looking for. The sudden death of a popular youth in the community often causes friends or family members to perform shoe tossing in a loved one’s honor.