If you have a chance, go to the Guggenheim. See Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, especially his painting “Defacement.” The exhibition of that painting, paintings by Basquiat and others was a memorial for Michael Stewart.
Michael Stewart was an art student at Parsons School of Design in New York City. He was arrested, beaten badly, and died in1983. Transit Police Officer John Kostick arrested him for defacing a subway station with graffiti. Says he caught him and he admitted it. His friends say he was an art student and never did graffiti. The beating was in the van, out of view. Kostick and two other officers were tried and acquitted. Kostick was suspended for perjury. Eliot Gross, the medical examiner, was fired for hiding evidence from the autopsy. I don’t need to say this. Michael Stewart was black. Officer John Kostick is white.
I don’t need to say this either. We don’t know whether Eric Garner was selling cigarettes. We don’t know whether Michael Stewart was defacing a subway station. We know that neither offense warranted the death penalty. We know that the police officers who administer the death penalty should face a consequence. We should not be memorializing someone’s death twenty-five years later. We should not be waiting five years for a decision about a police officer’s firing.