Ghetto Brothers

Formed 1969.
Ghetto Brothers


The Ghetto Brothers were a gang (or club) and music group founded in New York City's South Bronx in the late 1960s. The gang eventually spread to much of the Northeastern United States. Like the Young Lords, they were involved in Puerto Rican nationalism, including, in the case of the Ghetto Brothers, an association with the then-new Puerto Rican Socialist Party.

Ghetto Brothers founder Benjamin Melendez, who left the organization in 1976, was also known as a guitarist. He led a band, also known as the Ghetto Brothers, which included his late brother Victor Melendez on bass. They released one album Ghetto Brothers - Power-Fuerza in 1971, which had only informal, local distribution. It has since been re-released on CD.

The Ghetto Brothers, especially in their early years, had a reputation as one of the more politically minded and less vengeful of New York-area gangs. After Cornell "Black Benjy" Benjamin was killed in 1971 trying to prevent a fight between two rival gangs, the Ghetto Brothers did not seek the expected revenge on those responsible for his death. Instead, under Melendez's leadership (and that of Carlos Antonio Suarez, also known as Carlos Melendez), they were instrumental in achieving a moderately successful truce among South Bronx and other New York-area gangs at the Hoe Avenue peace meeting which occurred December 8, 1971. Among those present was Afrika Bambaataa, then a 14-year-old Black Spade warlord known on the streets as Bambaataa.

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