It’s nice to have a niche I suppose. In New Orleans you can take a tour of graveyards, Memphis has Graceland, and now tourists can pay $65 dollars for LA Gang Tours; art imitating life I suppose. Or something like that. Founder Alfred Thomas says there’s a fascination with gangs and he feels that addressing the issue head on with LA Gang Tours is a positive way to deal with the situation.
Today the group took its first tour with about 40 people on a bus. It works like this, first you have to sign a waiver stating that you understand your life may be in danger and that you may become a crime victim yourself. You then hand your $65 dollars over to an ex-gang member and off you go.
Some of the stops on the tour include the LA County Jail, because so many gang members wind up there and are born there I suppose. The LA Riverbed where several big time movies have been made like The Terminator, Grease, and Transformers, Skid Row which is where about 20,000 homeless spend their nights, Florencia 13 one of the oldest gangs in South Central LA, and the Birthplace of the LA chapter of The Black Panther Party, who knows maybe you might see some of Obama’s advisors there.
On the LA Gang Tours website their slogan is “saving lives, creating jobs, rebuilding communities.” Alfred Thomas, a former Florencia 13 member is either crazy or crazy like a fox. I don’t think there’s any question people will sign up to take the tour; it’s just a question of whether or not the city government will intervene to shut it down. Some city politicians are worried it might be too dangerous, that someone might get hurt.
A supposed cease fire has been worked out when the tour is scheduled. I suppose that’s a good thing, you wouldn’t want your tour bus rolling up into the middle of a gang war. The LA Gang Tour is tentatively scheduled to run once a month and employee 10 part-time ex-gang bangers. The whole idea behind the tour is to educate people about the history of gangs and what can be done to end gang violence in South Central Los Angeles. Let’s hear it for entrepreneurial spirit and capitalism. You can watch a 3 minute video of the tour below.