More than 50 years after Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York at the hands of members of the Nation of Islam, new information about the role FBI and the NYPD played in the targeting of the Black nationalist leader has emerged.
This weekend, which marked the 56th anniversary of X’s killing, three of his daughters held a press conference with the cousin of a now-deceased New York City Police Department officer to share a letter in which the former cop implicates himself, the NYPD and the FBI in targeting X.
In it, Wood confessed that as an undercover officer, he participated in actions “that were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own Black people.”
Those actions included infiltrating civil rights organizations in New York City in the mid-1960s, during the height of the movement.
“Under the direction of my handlers I was told to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit felonious acts,” wrote Wood. He added that his supervisors devised a plot to bomb the Statue of Liberty, which he drew two key members of X’s security detail into—subsequently leading them to be arrested just days before X was meant to speak at the Audubon in Harlem.
Malcolm X was assassinated at the venue on February 21, 1965, and three members of the Nation of Islam were arrested and convicted in his killing. In his letter, Wood says one of those men, Thomas Johnson, was wrongfully convicted to protect his own cover “and the secrets of the FBI and NYPD.” Johnson, who was also known as Khalil Islam, died in 2009. The date and circumstances of Wood’s death have not been made public.
However, the family of Malcolm X is now calling for a probe into the information shared in his letter.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz said at the press conference.
According to a report from CBS, the Manhattan’s District Attorney’s office has only said that they are continuing an “active and ongoing” review into two convictions related to Malcolm X’s death, which they started last year after the premiere of Netflix’s documentary Who Killed Malcolm X?
The NYPD issued a statement saying it has “provided all available records relevant” to the district attorney.
The FBI has made no comment about the allegations in the letter, which are far from the first indications that the federal law enforcement agency targeted Malcolm X and other Black leaders for mobilizing people in the fight for racial justice.