Graphic novel depicts BX gangs' push for peace
A Bronx resident and former gang member is sharing his rocky life story in a new graphic novel.
Benjamin Melendez, 63, teamed with German author and photojournalist Julian Veloj to produce "Ghetto Brother."
The story recounts one of Melendez's most traumatic life events -- when his best friend was brutally murdered by machete- and pipe-wielding gang members on 165th Street in 1971.
The extremity of that violence prompted Melendez to change the course of his life, he says.
He founded the Ghetto Brothers Gang, which he says brought together over 100 other Bronx gang leaders for a meeting on peace. That meeting provides the basis for the fictionalized graphic novel.
Veloj has been working with Melendez and other gang members for the past four years. He says his goal is to tell an important story that is unheard of outside certain circles in the borough.
The book follows Melendez's journey as he transformed from a gang founder into a peacemaker whose goal was to unite Bronx gangs and clean up the community.