Malcolm X’s family members published a letter from a late police officer saying that the New York Police Department and the FBI were behind the 1965 murder of the black leader.
Malcolm X was an effective public speaker who rose to prominence as the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group campaigning for black separatism. He spent more than a decade in the group before being disillusioned and publicly fired in 1964. He then moderated some of his old views on the benefits of racial segregation.
He was killed in the Aubudon Balroom in New York while preparing to speak. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of his death.
The letter, released at a press conference on Saturday, was attributed to a former undercover New York Police officer Raymond Wood. Raymond’s cousin, Reggie Wood, attended the press conference that used to be the Audubon Ballroom with some of Malcolm X’s daughters.
The letter from Raymond Wood states that the police officer was pressured by his superiors to take two members of Malcolm X’s security with him to commit crimes, which led to his arrest days before the murder.
The letter alleges that the arrests were aimed at removing security guards from their work and from the door of the room where Malcolm X was supposed to speak. You were part of a New York police and FBI conspiracy to kill the civil rights activist.
“Under the direction of my superiors, I was told to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit crimes,” said Wood’s letter.
Some historians have argued that the wrong men were convicted of the crime. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office said last year it would review the convictions on the case.
Following Saturday’s press conference, the Vance office said in a statement that “a review of this issue is in progress”. For their part, New York City Police said they had “provided all available records to the law firm.” The FBI declined to comment.
Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, said she had always lived with uncertainty about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death. “Any evidence that comes closer to the truth behind this terrible tragedy must be fully investigated,” he said at the press conference.