A letter published by a deceased police officer stating that the New York Police Department and the FBI initiated Malcolm X’s murder in 1965 was released by the iconic Black activist and civil rights advocate’s family on Saturday.
Malcolm X was a leading voice who rose to prominence as national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, an African-American group that embraced Black separatism.
Conflicts between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, led to him going his own way in 1964 having been with the organisation for more than a decade.
Three members of the Nation of Islam have previously been convicted of the shooting at New York’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21st 1965 where the 39-year-old had been preparing his speech.
Raymond Wood, a former undercover NYPD officer, is the man who wrote the letter as his cousin Reggie Wood joined some of Malcolm X’s daughters at the news conference at the site where the Audubon Ballroom once stood as the letter was made public.
The letter stated that Raymond Wood himself had been pressured by his NYPD supervisors to entice two members of Malcolm X’s security detail into committing crimes which saw them arrested just days prior to the fatal shooting.
According to the letter, the arrests meant there being two less men handling Malcolm X’s door security at the ballroom, suggesting that there was a conspiracy between the NYPD and FBI to have Malcolm killed.
“Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts,” Wood’s letter stated as quoted by Reuters.
Historians and scholars have previously contested that the wrong men were arrested as the convictions will be under review, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said last year.
As the FBI are yet to comment on the matter, Vance’s office released a statement after Saturday’s news conference saying its “review of this matter is active and ongoing.” The NYPD said in a separate statement it has “provided all available records relevant to that case to the District Attorney” and “remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz said she had always lived with not knowing the full story regarding her father’s death.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” she told the news conference.