What You Need To Know:
More than 50 years after the death of Malcolm X, a letter written by a former undercover New York Police Department officer alleges the agency, along with the FBI, were responsible for the assassination of the leader.
In the letter dated January 25, 2011, Ray Wood, who is Black, admitted he “participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own Black people.”
Wood said he was hired by the NYPD in 1964 to “infiltrate civil rights organizations” in search of criminal activity that would lead to the arrest of its leaders by the FBI.
As an undercover officer, Wood’s assignment was to help carry out plans to arrest two of Malcolm X’s primary security detail members in a plot to bomb the Statue of Liberty days before his assassination. On February 16, 1965, the New York Times reported the plot involved three members of a Black “terrorist group” and a Canadian woman who were planning the bombing of the New York landmark, along with the Liberty Bell and the Washington Monument.
“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.”
Malcolm X was killed in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom at an event held by the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of his murder.
Wood, who wrote the letter as he battled cancer, says he carried out the plot in fear of retaliation by his handlers. Wood said he tried to resign but was threatened with arrest for drug and alcohol trafficking charges if he did not follow through with the assignments.
Wood gave the confession to his cousin, Reginald Wood Jr., and asked that the information be held until after his death. Wood died in November 2020.
Wood’s cousin, who wrote the book “The Ray Wood Story,” published earlier this month, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and described his cousin as a “good man that was tricked and forced to betray his own people.”
Last year, the New York City district attorney’s office launched another investigation into Malcolm X’s murder after the documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” aired on Netflix. The FBI has not responded to the matter.
The three daughters of Malcolm X – Qubiliah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Gamilah Shabazz – joined civil rights attorney Ben Crump during a press conference over the weekend saying evidence proves the NYPD and the FBI conspired to have their father assassinated.
Why We Need To Know:
The murders of those seeking justice for African Americans is all too common. There are the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fred Hampton decades ago. Today, mystery surrounds multiple deaths of Black Lives Matter leaders, including Oluwatoyin Salau and Deandre Johnson, both vocal leaders in protests of the killings of George Floyd and Michael Brown. Their bravery cost them their lives. They each deserve a thorough investigation into their deaths, hopefully followed by prosecutions of those responsible.