In the Loop

In the Loop: February 2, 2009 Archive

Chinese Premier is the latest to get "shoed" by protesters

Posted at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2009 by Sanden Totten

Will 2009 be the year we hear the leaders of the world collectively call out: "don't shoe me bro!"? Today at Cambridge University another protester took off his footwear and hurled it at another world leader. This time the target was Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

A protester tossing a shoe during a pro-Palestine protest in London. photo by helen.2006 via Creative Commons

The protester stood up toward the end of a speech Mr. Wen was giving, blew a whistle for dramatic effect and shouted: "How can the university prostitute itself with this dictator? How can you listen to these lies?" Then he chucked his shoe. You can see video of it here. A mildly phased Wen Jiaboa barely blinks when the shoe lands a few meters off from the podium. It was a bulky tennis shoe without the aerodynamic grace of say a wingtip.

The school knew the speech would draw fire from critics and they already put heavy security at the door. But the problem is shoes can easily pass security. And unlike with Richard Reid, the infamous airplane shoe bomber, you can't detect the difference between a regular shoe and one destined for the head of some political figure just by running it though an x-ray.

So what does all this mean for journalists? Mandatory shoe checks at press conferences? Perhaps special "press booties" for reporters to wear when covering these events? Or maybe all journalists will be forced to wear something too heavy to toss, like steel toed Doc Martins. But then what, will protesters throw reporters notebooks or hot coffees? Where will it end? I say put all world leaders in a giant clear hamster ball right now and get the inevitable over with.

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