A group of civic activists plans to offer bus tours of some of the grittiest pockets of Los Angeles, including decayed public housing, sites of deadly shootouts and streets ravaged by racial unrest, reports the Los Angeles Times. After a VIP preview, L.A. Gang Tours expects to open to the public in January, giving tourists a look at the birthplace of many of the city’s gangs, including Crips and Bloods, Florencia 13, and 18th Street. “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,” said Alfred Lomas, a former Florencia member who has become a leading gang intervention worker and is spearheading the tours. “This is true community empowerment.”
The nonprofit group plans to offer two-hour tours at $65 per adult, with profits funneled back into the community through jobs, “franchised” tours in new areas, and micro-loans to inner-city entrepreneurs. The concept echoes “slum tours” of such sites as India’s Dharavi township and Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Those operations have been lauded as innovative economic tools and mechanisms for humanizing poverty — and also attacked as exploitative and voyeuristic. Lomas, who will lead tours, plans to talk about important chapters in the development of the city’s core, such as how racist housing restrictions shaped ethnic enclaves and the formation of gangs.