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If you have ever wondered when you walk down the street what meaning do shoes hanging on electricity cables have, this may interest you. The 'Shoefiti', as this practice has been called, is a worldwide trend. It is a play on words of the English word "shoe" and graffiti, which has been expanding in large cities around the world with the purpose of generating a language between communities, in most cases conflictive.
This trend began to prevail in popular neighborhoods in the United States where gangs prevailed in order to communicate through secret codes. With the shoes hanging on the cables in the middle of the roads, it was intended not only to mark a territory, but also to report on the sale of drugs and the domination exercised by certain groups outside the law.
In Bogotá, the police remain alert to this type of warning from street gangs that want to make themselves felt through codes, which until now are being deciphered. In various parts of the capital, especially in the vicinity of the parks, shoes are seen more frequently hanging on electricity cables and this has drawn the attention of the authorities.
The issue has gained so much momentum that this Friday a political control debate will be held to deal with the situation. Councilman Miguel Uribe Turbay recognized that this practice is currently used in Colombia, according to the Police and people from the community, to indicate the sale or consumption of drugs. "In some cases, the shoes are elements used by criminals to install video cameras and alert about the presence of authorities in the place."
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The lobbyist will denounce that shoes hanging on cables invade a significant number of parks in Bogotá, especially in vulnerable areas, where alleged gangs warn that psychoactive substances can be easily obtained in that sector.
Bogotá has 5,064 parks, of which 97% corresponds to neighborhood parks whose maintenance is the responsibility of local mayors, which, according to Uribe Turbay, "do not have the institutional capacity or sufficient resources to assume responsibility, maintenance and safety".
The lobbyist expressed concern about the abandonment of neighborhood parks, which are being affected by the presence of drugs, garbage and lack of lighting. According to figures provided by the Metropolitan Police, as of August 2015, there have been 51 homicides in parks in the towns of Ciudad Bolívar, Kennedy, Bosa and Santafé.
“According to the sample analyzed, 68% of the parks visited show drug and alcohol use, 59% of the parks are not clean, and 54% have furniture in fair or poor condition. All these conditions create spaces conducive to crime and increased insecurity”, added Uribe Turbay.
The authorities investigate what is behind the shoes hanging on the cables and with testimonies from the community they try to decipher the secret language of this trend. In Bogotá, 'Shoefiti' has been practiced for several years, although not always with the purpose of committing a crime, as happened in 2008 in the Quiroga neighborhood, where hanging sneakers suddenly appeared, not to warn of drug sales, but as a entertainment among those who played soccer. The captain of the losing team had to take off his shoes and hang them up, as a ritual.