Deathbed Confession Letter Links NYPD, FBI to Malcolm X Assassination

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Malcolm X mural in Philadelphia, photo by Neil Gilmour via Flickr.

A New York City undercover detective’s written deathbed confession of involvement in the assassination of Black Power icon Malcolm X has pushed his family to call for a full re-opening of the investigation into his murder.

Their plea was echoed by the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, all advocating for transparency in the 56-year-old case, The Washington Post and The Bay State Banner report.

The 2011 deathbed confession was written by the late Raymond A. Wood, a Black undercover detective with the New York Police Department back in the 1960s. As an undercover detective, Wood infiltrated multiple civil rights groups with plans to arrest and discredit their leaders. 

I participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people,” Wood wrote as he was dying of cancer, with directions to his family to not release the letter until he passed. 

Wood died on November 24 of last year, and now, his family, spearheaded by Reginald Wood Jr., is carrying out his wish, having just held a February news conference with Ben Crump, the celebrity civil rights lawyer who represents the families of George Floyd and  Daunte Wright, as well as Malcolm X’s three daughters, The Washington Post details.

In the deathbed confession letter, Wood details how his supervisors in the NYPD had Wood lure key members of Malcolm X’s security team into a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty. The plot was enough to get the members arrested by the FBI, while setting the stage for the assassination only a few days ahead. 

Wood notes how he was present in the ballroom as armed assailants killed Malcolm X at the podium — a startling scene as he says he was unaware that he was the target of his undercover plot. 

“I was ordered to the Audubon Ballroom, where I was identified by witnesses while leaving the scene,” Wood wrote, as quoted by The Bay State Banner. “Thomas Johnson was later arrested and wrongfully convicted to protect my cover and the secrets of the FBI and NYPD.”

At the news conference, Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s Daughters, said, “Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind the terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” The Washington Post quotes.

While on stage with Wood Jr., Crump echoed that sentiment, and called on Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to being “a full reinvestigation into the assassination.” 

“This was orchestrated, and the only way we get to justice … is with the truth,” Crump said at the Feb. 20 news conference, as quoted by The Bay State Banner.

Cyrus Vance Jr. had already announced that his office would review the convictions of two Nation of Islam members in Malcolm X’s killing, particularly after last year he opened an inquiry into the case following a meeting with members of the Innocence Project, The Washington Post and ABC7 News details.

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