In recent days, a Northeast Washington woman saw something in her neighborhood that aroused concern: two pairs of shoes dangling from power lines. She said she had heard that this was a gang symbol, and she contacted police.

It appears that no firm explanation may exist for dangling shoes, a fairly common sight here and elsewhere.

In response to questions about the reasons for flinging shoes onto power lines and any possible link to gangs, David Emery, a chronicler of urban legends, gave this reply on the Web site: “I don’t have a definitive answer. No one does.”

Whatever the shoes signify, the city has channels for dealing with them.

Yvonne Smith of the D.C. police office of community outreach notified the mayor’s office of neighborhood engagement. On Monday, Smith responded to the woman who spotted the shoes. She thanked the woman for raising the matter.

“Members of the D.C. Dept. of Transportation worked with
PEPCO,” Smith wrote, and “removed both pairs of shoes.” The woman who notified police could not be reached immediately.

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