Almost 56 years from the day Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City, lawyers and relatives of the late civil rights leader and black nationalist released new evidence that they say shows that the NYPD and the FBI conspired in his murder.
It comes in the form of a deathbed letter attributed to a former undercover NYPD officer who claimed supervisors pressured him to lure two of Malcolm X’s security men into committing crimes, a few days before the murder on February 21, 1965.
The arrests prevented the two men from handling the gate security at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on the day of the shooting, according to the letter.
The letter, written by Raymond Wood, was authorized for posthumous publication by a cousin. It was read Saturday at a news conference attended by three of X’s daughters and members of Wood’s family. No details were provided on the circumstances and timing of Wood’s death.
“Under the direction of my handlers,” the letter says, “they told me to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit crimes.”
Last year, the murder was the subject of a six-part Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X ?, which reviewed long-standing questions about whether two of the three men convicted of the shooting were innocent. In 2011, an involved NYPD detective wrote: “The investigation was a failure.”
The documentary prompted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr to review the convictions in the case. After Saturday’s press conference, Vance’s office said the review was “active and ongoing.” In a separate statement, the NYPD said it had “provided all available records relevant to that case” to Vance and “remains committed to assisting with that review in any way.”
The FBI had no comment.
Malcolm X was shot seconds after approaching a lectern to speak. Days earlier, he told an interviewer that he believed members of the Nation of Islam were trying to kill him. He was being watched by the FBI at the time. His home in Queens was bombed the week before his death.
One of her daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, said at Saturday’s press conference that she had lived with decades of uncertainty.
“Any evidence that provides a greater understanding of the truth behind that terrible tragedy must be thoroughly investigated,” he said.