On this date in 1983, graffiti artist Michael Stewart received recognition after his death in the hands of the New York City Transit Police following an arrest for using a marker and/or spray paint can on a First Avenue Station subway wall.

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Stewart’s treatment while in police custody and the trials of all of the arresting officers who were eventually acquitted of all crimes sparked the police brutality argument that still continues to this day in the cases of Kalief Browder, Sandra Bland, and countless others. It was one of the NYPD’s most publicized incidents of their laundry list of police brutality cases.

Stewart was arrested on the very same day that the Committee Against Racially Motivated Violence held a news conference to publicize a Congressional hearing into the complaints of police abuse.


Stewart died on September 28 after 13 days in a coma. He was only 25 years old.