Daughter of Malcolm X to sue agencies for alleged role in slaying

Ilyasah Shabazz said that she plans to sue the NYPD and the FBI, among others, for $100m in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The daughter of United States civil rights icon Malcolm X has announced that she intends to sue numerous government agencies for allegedly concealing their role in his assassination by gunfire on February 21, 1965.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters, joined with civil rights attorney Ben Crump to announce that they intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit for $100m against government entities such as the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“For years our family has fought for the truth to come to light concerning his murder, and we’d like our father to receive the justice that he deserves,” an emotional Shabazz told reporters. “It is our hope that litigation of this case will finally provide some unanswered questions. We want justice served for our father.”

Shabazz was two years old when she saw her 39-year-old father gunned down by three individuals as he prepared to give a speech in New York City, held in the same room where she announced her intent to sue on Tuesday.

The slaying of the Black leader has long been the subject of speculation about potential clandestine involvement.

Those beliefs remain contested but reflect longstanding scepticism of agencies like the FBI, a domestic intelligence agency that carried out efforts to infiltrate and dismantle Black rights groups during the tenure of the agency’s founder J Edgar Hoover.

Crump said that such speculation had been partially validated when, in October 2022, the city and state of New York awarded $36m to two men wrongfully convicted of Malcolm X’s killing.

The New York State Supreme Court had previously called their case “a failure of justice”, and on Tuesday, Crump stated that the government had concealed “exculpatory evidence” that could have exonerated the two men.

“Things that many people have speculated over the decades but were not substantiated … we believe that now it can be substantiated based on the recent exonerations of those who were wrongfully convicted,” he said.

Crump announced that he plans to take depositions from government officials for the case.

A black-and-white photo of a young Muhammad Aziz — in a tweed jacket and a dark, fedora-style hat — being escorted by police
Muhammad Aziz, shown here after his arrest in New York on February 26, 1965, spent years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted for involvement in the slaying of Black leader Malcolm X [File: AP Photo]

In the 1950s, as the civil rights movement prompted a reckoning over US race relations, Malcolm X rose to prominence as a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that espoused Black separatism.

However, he later fell out with the group and publicly broke with it in 1964, resulting in ire from some members as well as death threats. Some of his associates alleged that government agencies were aware of a plot to kill him but let them go forward.

Talmadge Hayer, a former member of the Nation of Islam, said in court that he was one of the assassins. The two men wrongfully convicted had long maintained their innocence, and Hayer had said that his accomplices were other Nation of Islam members.

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