Citing a deathbed letter by a former police officer who alleges the NYPD and the FBI conspired in the assassination of Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), three daughters—Ilyasah, Qubilah and Gamilah Shabazz—of the slain leader have requested the investigation of the murder be reopened. They were joined by noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.
The officer, Raymond Wood, wrote that his responsibility was to ensure that Malcolm’s security team was arrested before he was killed on Feb. 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. Three men, members of the Nation of Islam, were convicted and given life sentences. Two of the men, Thomas Hagan or Talmadge Hayer (now Mujahid Abdul Halim) and Norman 3X Butler (aka Muhammad Abdul Aziz), have been released from prison. Thomas 15X Johnson (aka Khalil Islam) died in 2009.
In his letter, Wood wrote that the NYPD and the FBI covered up the details of the assassination. His task was to make sure there was no door security in the building, though Malcolm’s four-man guard near the stage was in place. At the press conference at the Shabazz Center on Saturday, no details were presented of how and when Wood died. But apparently the letter was to be revealed only after Wood’s death. According to his cousin, Wood, who was Black and worked as an undercover operative, claimed to have approached Malcolm X’s entourage on orders from his higher-ups.
A year ago, following the release of a Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” an investigation was discussed based on new evidence but nothing more has been said about it. Several months ago, the Manhattan district attorney initiated a review of the case and the convictions, and the NYPD at that time provided records relevant to the case. No comments have come yet on the current request.
In a statement from the family, the Amsterdam News was told that they stand in solidarity in seeking truth and justice about the assassination of Malcolm. “The deathbed confession of Ray Wood Sr. confirms the suspicions and concerns of progressive movements in NYC and around the country,” the statement read. “As communities across the country continue the call for police accountability and justice, we recognize the information revealed today has contemporary ramifications. Some of the individuals targeted by Ray Wood Sr. on behalf of the NYPD over 50 years ago remain in prison this very day.
“As the world rallies around the Movement for Black Lives,” the statement continued, “and institutions recommit themselves to the work of racial justice and equity, we too heed the call for structural change, innovative institution building, and spirit-driven activism. Continuing in the rich legacy of our leaders, Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, The Shabazz Center is currently expanding our reach as a memorial and cultural space dedicated to educating our future leaders to take the reins of social movements.”