I’ve been meaning to write about this next topic for a few weeks already because I still am not sure what my thoughts are about it….
los angeles gang tours.
A new organization, created in November 2009 by a former gang member Alfred Lomas, has been established to give people a tour of the Los Angeles community where rival gangs and gang life resides. The first time that I heard about these tours was while watching the George Lopez show, he joked about how people are paying money to put their lives in danger and went on about how they could get a “cap in their a**” by participating in these tours. Obviously, I did not get a great perspective of the program, so I have done some research about it.
On their website, http://www.lagangtours.com/, Alfred Lomas is quoted saying:
“My heart and prayer is that this organization will provide rays of hope into the dark corridors of drugs and gang violence together we will fight for peace and love, with a determination that will not be denied and a courage that will never fail.”
With the profit of these tours, he hopes that it will create jobs in the area. He also hopes that it will uphold a cease-fire that some rival gangs have agreed to during the tours. Personally, I don’t know how he got rival gangs to agree to a cease-fire for the tours. From the little work and interactions that I have experienced both with Homeboy Industries and the study at USC – I can tell you that creating a cease-fire is possible but only with gang/gang members that are not caught up in the gang life; which, would then mean that they have a different perspective on life and they want change in themselves and for the community. Anyway, I’m ranting on…
So my question is: How did Mr. Lomas come up with this agreement? Did he meet up with the leaders of every gang in Los Angeles and convince them not to shoot up their enemies? If so, what about those groups that have multiple leaders? What hours are then safe for the tours compared to others? And in the end, would a cease-fire agreement stop a gang member from going after an enemy in order to “get even”? I mean, I would love to think that their agreement with Mr.Lomas would trump their resentment towards the rival but what does it all come down to? Feelings. Reactions…Seconds.
On a different note:
I’m a complete supporter of creating new jobs for impoverished communities like south Los Angeles. I also support this effort in educating more individuals about gang life. However, some part of my still does not like the idea of the tours. Maybe it’s just me but it reminds me of those Hollywood tours going around looking at celebrity homes – something you can’t relate to. Or even, it reminds me of the Jungle Tour ride in Disneyland. You go around a foreign [to you] land and you hear the tour guide telling you stories of what life is like “for those people” from the safety of your charter bus. To me, the way that the tour is set up makes you distance yourself even further from the population that you are trying to learn about.
In the end, I think that I will just have to take one of these rides and learn for myself first-hand what these tours are about. Maybe I will end up eating my own words and end up loving this tour, who knows. I would also like to talk to Mr.Lomas about his greater ideas with this project. I’m interested to hear why he wants to educate “outsiders” and what he would like to come from it.
Again, your thoughts are always welcome.