While Los Angeles already has bus tours of celebrities’ homes, which you’ll notice through the Hollywood area, a new company is offering tours of gang-turf throughout South Central, Los Angeles.
L.A. Gang Tours will offer bus tours to tourists of some of the city’s most notorious neighborhoods, giving them what they describe as “a true first-hand encounter of the history and origin of high profile gang areas and the top crime scene locations.”
Some of those locations include the LA County Jail, the L.A. River, the Metropolitan Detention Center, Skid Row, Florencia 13, Florence Avenue, and the Pico Union Graff Lab, among others.
According to the L.A. Times, the idea was created by a group of civic activists that believe “that the poor economy in the interior of Los Angeles is a social injustice.”
The non-profit group’s website says they hope the Gang Tours help to “create jobs for the residents of South Central, Los Angeles” and use the money to give back “to these areas for economic growth and development.”
L.A. Gang Tours is slated to open to the public in January. They will give tourists a look into a culture that only see on TV, or in movies.
“This is ground zero for a lot of the bad in this city. It could be ground zero for a lot of the good too,” Alfred Lomas, a former Florencia member, told the paper. He is now a gang intervention worker in South Los Angeles and is spearheading the tours.
“This is true community empowerment.”
While on the surface, the program seems like a positive, some believe it to be really controversial as well. L.A. Human Relations Commission field staffer, Francisco Ortega, says the tours could be looked at as exploitative.
“It could come across like a zoo or something,” he told the L.A. Times. “You’re being carted about: ‘Look at that cholo over there!’ It could be perceived as demeaning for the people who are living in these conditions. I don’t know how they’re going to manage those perceptions.”
“It’s not right to put people on display,” City Councilwoman Jan Perry added.
Other concerns include the safety of the tourists who purchase tickets. According to the organization, they have approached the major gangs in the area and struck a deal to allow buses “safe passage” during pre-determined times and routes.
Despite the concerns, the tours’ organizers say they will carefully plan tours that are respectful and neither glorify gangs nor exploit the poor.
“What matters to me is that kids get fed and families get help,” Lomas said.
The organization is bolstered by business leaders and gang experts who are contributing start-up capital and advice.
The organization has been backed by a group of business leaders and gang experts, who have contributed start-up capital and advice. They include: former Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone, gang expert Ron Noblet, and Seattle-based Duninger Corp. owner Terry Jensen, among others.