Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of civil rights leader Malcolm X’s assassination, which prompted new questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.
His three daughters published a document on Saturday that suggested his death had been orchestrated by the FBI and New York Police Department.
“Deplorable and detrimental”
The controversial icon was fatally shot in 1965 while preparing to deliver a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. Three members of the Nation of Islam, the group with which Malcolm X had been associated until 1964, were later convicted in association with his death.
Nevertheless, his death has long been a topic of speculation and conspiracy theories. According to his daughter, Attallah, Qubilah, and Ilyasah Shabazz, released a letter that purportedly shows a conspiracy to leave their father unguarded on the day of the shooting.
At the center of the claim was a deathbed confession by a former NYPD officer, Raymond Wood, who was on duty on the day of Malcolm X’s death.
In 2011, ex-cop said he “participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people.
Wood wrote that he was ordered by his supervisors to cajole the civil rights activist’s bodyguards into committing crimes days before the assassination. He said he was not aware, however, that Malcolm X was the ultimate target.
“Active and ongoing”
“It was my assignment to draw the two men into a felonious federal crime so that they could be arrested by the FBI and kept away from managing Malcolm X’s door security on February 21, 1965,” Wood wrote. “At that time, I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target.”
Speculation that foul play by government officials was involved in the shooting conspiracy has been circulating for decades, in part due to a program implemented under former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that sought to infiltrate and undermine political movements deemed subversive at the time.
Malcolm X was reportedly spied on by the federal investigators, as were other prominent leaders of the day — including Martin Luther King Jr., who received a threatening letter from the feds that pressured him to commit suicide.
In his letter, Wood claimed that he was hired in 1964 to “infiltrate” and destroy civil rights groups.
For his part, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said a review into the assassination is “active and ongoing.” The NYPD confirmed that it had “provided all available records relevant to that case to the District Attorney.”