New allegations around the assassination of U.S. civil rights leader Malcolm X were made public on Saturday (February 20) in a letter from a deceased man. The letter asserts the New York Police Department participated in a conspiracy with the FBI that eventually led to the 1965 killing of Malcolm X.
Reggie Wood, the cousin of deceased former undercover NYPD officer Raymond Wood, said during a news conference that his late cousin confessed to him that he had been pressured by his NYPD supervisors to lure two members of Malcolm X’s security detail into committing crimes that resulted in their arrest just days before the fatal shooting of the civil rights icon at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
“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 Audubon Ballroom door security on February 21st, 1965,” Reggie Wood read from a letter composed by his cousin Raymond in 2011. Wood said the letter had been written as a ‘deathbed’ confession when his cousin and former NYPD officer Raymond Wood had thought he might die of cancer. While Raymond Wood continued to live another ten years, he requested his confession only be made public after his death.
Reggie Wood spoke to reporters at the site of the former ballroom which was later turned into the a memorial to Malcolm X and is now a cultural center. He was joined by three of Malcolm X’s daughters and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said he would submit the 2011 confession by the late police officer to various law enforcement agencies including the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. While details of the allegations made public at the news conference were limited to the content of the written confession, Reggie Wood said all the details for which his cousin confessed have been laid out in a memoir at the suggestion of Wood’s attorney, Crump.
When reached for comment about these new allegations, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office told Reuters in a statement its “review of this matter is active and ongoing,” according to a spokesman. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced in February of 2020 that it would review the convictions of two of the Nation of Islam members who were held responsible for the 1965 killing.
In a brief written statement about the review of the convictions that was opened in 2020, the NYPD told Reuters on Saturday 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 helped define the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s. He was a powerful orator who rose to prominence as the national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that opposed integration with whites.
Later, he broke with the organization and moderated some of his earlier views on the benefits of racial separation.
He was killed at New York’s Audubon Ballroom while preparing to deliver a speech. An estimated 30,000 mourners attended his funeral in Harlem.
(Production: Mana Rabiee)