Wednesday, January 6, 2010

LA Gang Tours: zoofication or a new beginning?

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image There is more to L.A than bright lights, wealth and fame. The dark side of the city includes a gang culture with a rich history of violence, drugs, and other forms of criminal behaviour. The continued existence of the gangs is a reflection of our apathy towards impoverished people of color. For many, the only escape involves an undertaker.

With the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, people are quick to point out that those of Latino heritage have made great strides to demand their share of the American dream, but tokenism does not help the teeming masses at the bottom. The Sotomayors of this world provide inspiration for what is possible, but the pathway must be determined from inside a community if a true and lasting change is to occur.

It is with that end in mind that Alfred Lomas has organized LA Gang Tours. Tour buses will take participants through historic sites that symbolize the birth of L.A. gang culture. For sixty-five dollars they will visit:

* The Los Angeles County Jail
* The Los Angeles River Bed
* The Metropolitan Detention Center
* Skid Row
* The Symbionese Liberation Army Shoot Out
* Florencia 13
* Birthplace of Black Panther Party
* Florence District
* Florence Avenue
* Firestone Sheriff Station
* Hall of Justice Jail
* Pico Union Graff Lab (Graffiti Lab)

To ensure the safety of the tours, a ceasefire has been arranged between rival gangs. On each bus, a member of a local gang will act as a tour guide. Having seen firsthand what gangs and violence can do to a community, Lomas has determined that “public safety is paramount; without freedom from violence, no other freedom can exist.”

Finish reading here