The daughters of Malcolm X have requested that the investigation into his murder be reopened in light of new evidence that links the New York Police Department and the FBI to the assassination.
On his deathbed former New York policeman Raymond Wood said his responsibility was to ensure Malcolm X’s security team were arrested days before he was shot dead in Manhattan.
In a letter he said the NYPD and the FBI covered up details of the assassination on February 21, 1965 in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, Upper Manhattan, according to Wood’s family and their lawyer.
Wood alleged that he was tasked with making sure that Malcolm X would have no door security in the building where he was due to speak in public.
At a press briefing on Saturday Wood’s family said he did not want to make the letter public until after his death, fearing repercussions from the authorities.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” said Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters.
Reacting to the news, the NYPD said: “Several months ago, the Manhattan district attorney initiated a review of the investigation and prosecution that resulted in two convictions for the murder of Malcolm X. The NYPD has provided all available records relevant to that case to the district attorney. The department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
The FBI has so far made no public comment on the issue.
On February 21, 1965, hundreds of people gathered at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City to hear Malcolm X speak. But moments after he took the stage shots rang out, and by 3:30 p.m. that day, Malcolm X was dead.
Three members of the Nation of Islam were quickly arrested – Mujahid Abdul Halim (then known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan), Muhammad A. Aziz (then known as Norman 3X Butler), and Khalil Islam (then known as Thomas 15X Johnson).
All three men were convicted in 1966 and sentenced to life in prison, but two of them — Aziz and Islam — have always maintained their innocence. Islam died in 2009, but Aziz, now 81, is still fighting to clear his name.
In 2020, the Manhattan district attorney launched a review of the convictions after meeting representatives of the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal group campaigning for justice for individuals it says have been wrongly convicted.
By the time he was gunned down Malcolm X had left the Nation of Islam, had become an orthodox Sunni Muslim and had moderated his militant message of black separatism. But he remained a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance.