Creating During a Crisis: Black Muralist Sydney G. James To Recreate Iconic Malice Green Painting

Muralist, Sydney G. James

During this time of Strange Fruit, Artist, and Muralist, Sydney G. James has found a way to hang her frustrations by re-creating the mural in honor of unjustly slain Malice Green, killed at the hands of Police Brutality.

History Repeats Itself.

In 1992, Detroit native Malice Green, a black man, died after 2 white police Detroit Police officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers assaulted him. Green was unarmed and the officers were in plainclothes when they approached him. Five additional officers were called to the scene and witnessed Budzyn and Nevers beating Malice Green with their flashlights, one of the witnessing officers joined the beating. Although the ambulance was called to the scene of the incident, he was deceased by the time he arrived at Detroit Receiving Hospital. In an expression of shock and indignation, City of Detroit’s Mayor at the time, Coleman A. Young, advised that the police “murdered” Green — Young was also the first Black Mayor of Detroit. In a prominent account of justice, Chief Prosecutor Kym Worthy tried the case and both officers were convicted of murder and sentenced to imprisonment.

On May 25, 2020, in a jarring resemblance to other accounts of police brutality, George Floyd fell victim. He too, died by the time he reached the hospital. The four former Minneapolis police officers identified for their involvement have been recently charged. Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, and the remaining former officers, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng are each facing charges of unintentional aiding and abetting second-degree murder as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Original Malice Green Mural.


Art Imitates Life.

Although the original mural of Malice Green was created in 1992 by a local artist as a memorial and idolized him as a face of brutality, it has since been destroyed. Motivated by recent events, James, a budding and deeply inspired Detroit Artist will re-create the mural in the Highland Park area. Accompanied by fellow artists BakPak Durden, Ijania Cortez, and Cyrah Dardas, the project is set to begin on Sunday, June 7th.

Paying homage to Kym Worthy’s tactfulness during the trial of Malice Green, James expresses her desire to use the same intentional tact in the design and placement of the mural.

“Black people, especially Black creatives, don’t have the luxury of just painting anything. We have a duty to share our truths” James said. “To tell our truths and tell it as largely and as loudly as we can.” Referencing historic black artists-activists Harry Belafonte and Nina Simone, James describes how she imagines that it must have been hard for them to maintain their dedication to their artistry and their activism as they may have been accepted by many for their talent but rejected for the color of their skin.

“Of course it’s depressing, of course, you don’t want to be creative right now. But you have to, you have to persevere, we have to share the story. This is our reality. ” James added. She highlighted the important role that Black creatives hold during this time of uncertainty to remind others of Black history and paint a portrait of hope for the future. They have the advantage and fortunate ability to innovate beyond the dreadful reality; evoking the pain, strength, grief, hurt, and re-telling the story beautifully through art.

With an original goal of $10,000 for various needs and supplies to complete the mural, the go-fund-me account exceeded the initial goal by $8,000. Remaining funds will be applied to additional fees and Detroit Residents participating in the ongoing protests.

The mural of Malice Green is due to be unveiled on June 19th, 2020 also known as “Juneteenth”, celebrated as the day Emancipation Proclamation was declared to the enslaved in 1865.

“This mural will give Malice Green and other ancestors who have died at the hands of police brutality, as well as their surviving families and communities their deserved visibility in recorded and cultural history.”

The Mural Will be available for viewing at the Hamilton- Tucker Gallery, located at 16065 Hamilton Ave.


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