Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Soto Brothers


Two kids had already been killed down the street from the apartment complex that would one day be the center of media attention when Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton would be murdered in his bed this same year. Teens from the Henry Horner projects had been protesting for months, a little over a year to be exact, for a traffic signal at the corner of local schools and health clinics where two teens had already been killed. The city refused. In addition, earlier this year, police kicked down the doors of a Panther office, brutally beating and injuring six people and one bystander on Madison Street.

As you can see, the climate of 1969 Chicago was already heated surrounding citizens and the city. Police brutality in Chicago is far from anything new and this year they were on a roll.

Source: JET Magazine, Oct. 30, 1969

John Soto was an active member of the protest campaigns to get a traffic light installed at the corner, a few blocks from Fred’s Apartment. Sadly, John only lived to seventeen, were killed just one day (Oct 5th) after a police raid on a Panther office. According to the reports, John fought with the police before being “accidentally” shot by them. The already agitated community grew furious and John’s brother, Michael Soto, returned home from the army to attend his brother’s funeral. Five days later, on October 10, 1969, Michael Soto too was shot and killed. The black community did not believe in coincidences.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, Oct. 11th,1969

It was said that Michael was killed because, after being stopped by police, he pulled out a gun, contrary to the account given by witnesses.

The community became even more outraged and according to the NAACP’s Commission of Inquiry, “The commission discovered that a substantial segment of the community believed that, contrary to all police reports, John and Michael Soto had been murdered by the police because of their participation in the traffic light protests.”

Source: JET Magazine, Oct. 30, 1969

According to Jeffrey Haas, Panther Lawyer of The People’s Law Office and author of “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther”, (one of the books I’m reading), the coroner’s inquests in the Soto case were delayed; meanwhile, the internal police investigation found John’s death to be “accidental homicide” and Michael’s death “justifiable homicide”.

I decided to dedicate this week’s Black History Fun Fact to these brothers because of two things:

  1. Google’s limited amount of information on them
  2. Their minimum mention in black history

Though their lives were sadly ended, I wanted to highlight what happened to them for those who may not have been familiar. They existed and are among the many so-called Black and Hispanic men and women who died at the hands of law enforcement.

Update: Interestingly enough, I found this article and thought I’d update this post to include the link:

Chicago police use excessive force, DOJ finds

“Chicago police officers’ use of excessive force, she said, stemmed in large part from what the Justice Department found were severely insufficient training and accountability procedures — including failing to train officers to de-escalate situations.”

Published by


I write to restore Black Historical Truth for the freedom of all people. Visit me online at and @yecheilyah on IG and Twitter.

28 thoughts on “Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Soto Brothers”

      1. I was also classmates with the Soto family and we attended St. Malachy Grammar School.I also marched with them concerning the stop light incident. May they Rest in Peace

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I grew up with the Sotos at Henry Horner 2111 West Lake Street. They were a model family with a strong hardworking father figure. John and I same age. I went off to college out of stste when I heard he was killed and it shook me up, and then Michael. Life on westside dropped like a bomb as white police were out of control. The night they killed Michael they unloaded many rounds into our building and hitting a child. I wrote a piece in my recent book CHICAGO WESTSIDE ARCHITECTURAL DIARY by John Robert Bland.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember as a child in the Horner projects. My Mom was deep into the Civil Rights Movement. I remember lying on the floor when the police were shooting. I remember most of all the “Soto Brother” chant.
          “One Soto Brother got shot one day. Two Soto brothers had died that way. Three got together mighty sore. Four got together and said, “No More”. Five got together Five got together and said and said that’s jive. SIX got together and said”We’ll survive. Seven got together and said”Let’s deal”. Eight got together and said,”We will”. Nine got together right on time. Ten got together on the freedom line. Now you may think that TEN is small, but TEN together is mighty tall and we’re moving moving moving on
          My mother use to sing this all the time. 😔

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I was a very young girl when this happened, and I remember everything I thought it was the most horrifying life experience.. I went to both of the brothers wake ,and funeralJohnny’s on Madison Street. I kissed his cold stiff body that experience I’ll never forget, and how those brothers die was the most horrifying experience I have ever in my life endured. Those were the nicest guys you’ll ever in your life meet … Sure a beautiful family, and they would do anything for us young children, we love those brothers…Thanks for sharing this memorable moment.I had not thought about this for over50years.I can write a book about what happened that night with Johnny, and also Michael everything leading up to their death,and after their death it was a tragic, and I never experienced anything like that in my life, and I never want to ever could you imagine being a child and experience such a terrible death of two brothers that did, so much for their families and communities it was horrible…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww. So sorry you had to endure that. It does make you part of history though and because of eyewitnesses like yourself we can pass these stories down so they are not forgotten.


      1. I remember that Friday afternoon. I lived right at Damen and Warren, and at first I thought it was another attack on the Black Panther Party office at Western and Madison. Then word on the street was police were shooting up at Henry Horner projects, and literally hundreds or maybe thousands hit the streets in protest . Helicopters were overhead. The next day hundreds organized and marched downtown to the Civil center and gave speeches.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Although I have previously commented, there’s so much more to be told. My husband, Winkey now deceased was best friends with Michael. He was also with him hen he was killed. Imagine my fear.
        So many bullets flying, felt like a war zone. Two of the best people I ever knew. Died trying to do the right thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for highlighting my Uncles! I was not born at the time but this post brings much comfort in knowing that they were respected and loved in their community. I cannot wait to share with my father and uncles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember reading about the Soto Brothers in a Black Panther Party Newspaper at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture back in 2004. I am glad this article was published and so many folks came out to share their memories.

    Chicago tend to function like a mafia and a cult. One in the same. They are protected by state and local Governments that make it almost impossible for anyone to hold them accountable for any crimes against anyone who isn’t part of that inner circle.

    It sounds like a scary film but it’s true. Not all police have criminal intent but many do take out their personal frustrations and discrimination against Black and Brown people.

    RIPOWER SOTO Brothers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.