Decades after the assassination of Malcolm X shook the civil rights movement in America, his family has called for the case to be reopened over new evidence allegedly implicating the New York police and FBI.
Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February, 1965 during a public address. All three attackers who fired bullets at the stage were detained and convicted of murder in 1966, handed a life sentence.
A letter has now resurfaced, however, attributed to an officer with the New York Police Department (NYPD) at the time of the killing named Raymond Wood. According to the Malcolm X family, the letter details the role played by the NYPD and the FBI in the killing.
Wood’s deathbed letter was released by the former officer’s family members on Saturday and read to the press. They and their lawyer say that in it, Wood claims he was ordered to lure Malcolm X’s security guards into committing crimes in order to get them arrested, days before the assassination took place.
“Under the direction of my handlers,” the letter reportedly states, “I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts.”
According to the circumstances depicted by the letter, the arrests of Malcolm X’s guards meant that he had reduced security at the venue where he was speaking on the day of his assassination.
Speaking to reporters, Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters, said: “Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated.”
In a statement, the NYPD said 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.”
The FBI has so far not issued any statement on the issue.
The death of Malcolm X has been surrounded by theories of a larger conspiracy for years, amid questions over the conduct of the original murder investigation.
A six-part Netflix documentary entitled “Who Killed Malcolm X” released last year also investigated the role of the men accused in the case, and whether they were actually innocent.
The three men arrested were believed to be members of the Nation of Islam political and religious movement, for which Malcom X had been a vocal spokesperson before parting ways and easing his militant views. He continued to be a strong voice for black unity.