Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2021. 12:37 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: 56 years ago today, Sunday, U.S. black civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in New York City.
While three men were ultimately convicted of his murder, in 2020, the Manhattan (New York County) 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.
This weekend, according to the BBC, Malcolm’s daughters have brought forward new evidence they say demands a re-opening of the entire murder investigation.
That evidence is a deathbed letter from one Raymond Wood, a police officer in 1965, who says his responsibility was to ensure Malcolm X’s security team were arrested days before he was shot dead in Manhattan, according to his family, and that New York police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conspired in Malcolm’s murder.
The accused assassins, all members of the Nation of Islam political and religious movement as was Malcolm up to his public separation months before his death, were jailed for life. One died; the others have since been paroled.
Malcolm, born Malcolm Little in Detroit, Michigan, had at the time of his assassination, moderated his militant message of black separatism, but remained a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance – and a target of federal authorities.
Wood’s letter says the NYPD and FBI covered up details of the assassination in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, Upper Manhattan, according to Wood’s family and their lawyer. Wood alleges 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 members provided no details about how and when Raymond Wood died. But they 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.
The NYPD in a statement says it “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.
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