Have you heard about the new LA Gang Tours?  The website details their mission as follows:

The mission of LA GANG TOURS is to provide an unforgettable historical experience for our customers with a customized high-end specialty tour. We will provide customers with a true first-hand encounter of the history and origin of high profile gang areas and the top crime scene locations in South Central, Los Angeles. 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. 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.

The first tour took place on January 16th and was sold out.  Tours cost $65 per person and are conducted on a 56-seat unmarked bus.  Former gang members narrate the tour and provide testimonials along the way.  Customers must sign a liability waiver that describes the tour as “inherently dangerous” and warns of the risk of death. The New York Times reports: ‘…after careful consideration, it was decided not to have residents shoot water guns at the bus and sell “I Got Shot in South Central” T-shirts.’  If these tours are striving to be legitimate educational experiences, that was probably a wise choice.

Interesting idea.  These gang tours may serve a function similar to prison tours where participants are offered an “inside” view of an unfamiliar culture, often shattering the stereotypical images featured in the media.   It’s too early to tell, obviously, whether this is a promising entrepreneurial endeavor that will benefit these communities or if these tours will turn out to be exploitative and/or truly dangerous.

Thoughts?  Would you go on a gang tour?  Why or why not?