New Tats Cru mural memorializes activist Benjy Melendez

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MOTT HAVEN -

The street art legends "Tats Cru" have a new mural up outside Saint Mary's Playground, and it pays homage to a man who tried to bring peace while the Bronx was “burning.”

The new art is a Tats Cru mural of Bronx legend Benjy Melendez along Jackson Avenue near 145th Street.

“The idea is to capture him when he was young. Like an outlaw to later when he became an activist, a family man and a musician,” says BG183, of Tats Cru.

Melendez was a founding member of the South Bronx gang The Ghetto Brothers, but throughout the late-60s and early-70s, he worked to broker peace between rival gangs, trying to break a cycle of violence, instead of propelling it. 

"We're talking when the Bronx was burning, things really weren't happening here. Benjy had the foresight to take it to the next level and create peace amongst the gangs,” says photographer and friend Joe Conzo.

Now, less than two years after his passing, his friends and family came together to push for his story to be immortalized through art.

With the help of Tats Cru and the Foxy Wall Project, a group of developers that adds street art to their buildings, the idea came to life 

May 28 will mark two years since Melendez passed, but now anyone who passes by the mural will get a visual dose of south Bronx history.

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