Former gang member Alfred Lomas, talks with reporters invited to take an "LA Gang Tour" in Los Angeles on a recent Sunday. The tour promises "hands-on knowledge and experience of the inner city lifestyle."
Former gang member Alfred Lomas, talks with reporters invited to take an "LA Gang Tour" in Los Angeles on a recent Sunday. The tour promises "hands-on knowledge and experience of the inner city lifestyle." Hector Mata/AP
For all those wannabe thugs, die-hard Boyz N The Hood fans and connoisseurs of all things hoodlum, your moment — via coach bus — has finally arrived.
Reformed Los Angeles gangbanger Alfred Lomas recently debuted LA Gang Tours, which joins an already crowded bundle of offerings to L.A. tourists looking to peruse lifestyles of the rich, famous and ... infamous.
In a nutshell, Lomas promises customers "first-hand encounters" with "the top crime scene locations in South Central, Los Angeles," known for one of the most notorious street gang cultures in the world. The tour makes 11 stops that include current and former hotspots, such as the Florence District and the Firestone Sherriff Station, a hub during the 1965 Watts Riots.
The encounters are apparently so first-hand that would-be riders are asked to sign a release form. It's just in case, you know, things get out of hand (although Lomas says his group has negotiated cease fire "safe passage" zones with street gangs along tour bus routes.)
In a mission statement posted to its Web site, the company boasts its $65 ticket price has even more rewards:
Each tour bus for LA GANG TOURS will have a guide from the South Central areas who has gained hands-on knowledge and experience of the inner city lifestyle.
Lunch is also provided.
While Lomas admittedly plays into passengers' fascination with gang life — and is being slammed by L.A. city councilmembers who fume that LA Gang Tours is as equally shoddy as it is dangerous — the visionary behind the tours says his work is fueled by a deeper purpose. According to the company Web site:
The objective is to create jobs for the residents of South Central, Los Angeles; to give profits from the tours back to these areas for economic growth and development, provide job/entrepreneur training, micro-financing opportunities and to specialize in educating people from around the world about the Los Angeles inner city lifestyle, gang involvement and solutions.
It makes one wonder whether LA Gang Tours offers one of those good, educational community experiences or is just a bootleg, exploitative tourist "attraction."
Hopefully, we'll convince Alfred Lomas — and his critics — to tell us more ...