Michael Stewart was a young black man who was spotted drawing on the walls of a Manhattan subway station in September 1983. Transit police beat and hogtied him. Half an hour later, he was brought to a hospital in a coma. He died 13 days later. The medical examiner falsified autopsy reports three times in an attempt to cover up the blatant police brutality. Six policemen were charged, but none were convicted.

(Black) graffiti artist whose death by strangulation in 1984 at the hands of (white) police and their subsequent acquittal bore a sharp rise in political street art in New York City protesting a growing climate of police brutality. Notably among them is the "La Lucha Continua" mural project wherein Stewart’s murder was brought to light in the same vein as, and entwined with, themes such as apartheid, evictions, US intervention in Central America, the disappeared in Guatemala, homelessness and finally, the power of grassroots community organizing.

Throughout the eighties up until his death Stewart was part of a core group of artists and political activists which transcended all ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds for whom art was indeed life. His death remains one of the most jarring examples of what can go wrong in America

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