Flyin’ Cut Sleeves
(The documentary starts at 00:20)
Shout to NotaBene for the tip!“Completed in 1993 Flyin’ Cut Sleeves presents alternating portrayals, from the past and the present, of former street gang presidents in the Bronx: Benjy Melendez, The Ghetto Brothers, Ben Buxton, The Savage Nomads, Nelly “China” Velez, The Savage Nomad Girls, Felipe “Blackie” Mercado, The Savage Sculls, and Lorine Padilla, Blackie’s wife. The project grew out of the experiences of Rita Fecher, the film’s co-producer, who taught in a South Bronx school in the late 1960?s and early 1970?s, became intimately involved with the gangs, their leaders, and the leaders’ families and began to document their lives. Their world was the streets, set against a backdrop of uprooted families, cultural alienation, drugs and violence. Neighborhood teenagers responded by organizing into street groups known to the members as “families”, but labeled in the most alarming terms as violent gangs by the press. In fact, the “families” had a stabilizing effect, enabling the youths to cope with their troubled environment and providing their young leaders with a means of exercising authority. The political climate at the time, movements of national liberation and such organizations as the Black Panthers and Young Lords Party influenced the young gang leaders to aspire to be more than warriors and to become, to some degree, a positive force in their communities.