A confession letter written by a former Black New York Police Department (NYPD) cop on his deathbed alleges the department and the FBI played a role in the 1965 assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X.
In the letter that was obtained by ABC News, Ray Wood, who reportedly worked as an undercover police officer on the day Malcolm X was assassinated, confessed he “participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people.” The letter was written on January 25, 2011.
Wood claimed he was recruited by the NYPD in 1964 to “infiltrate civil rights organizations” for the sole purpose of digging up evidence of criminal activity to enable the FBI to taint the image of their followers and arrest their leaders. Days before Malcolm X was fatally shot, Wood claimed his handler arranged the arrest of two of his “key” security guards in a bid to leave a gaping hole in the civil rights activist’s security apparatus.
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“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, adding: “… At that time I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target.”
Malcolm X was speaking at an Organization of Afro-American Unity event at Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965, when a group of men suddenly rushed to the podium and fatally shot him several times. Three Nation of Islam members were held responsible for the shooting and convicted in 1966.
Wood alleged “his actions on behalf of the New York City Police Department (BOSSI) were done under duress and fear,” ABC News reported. Had he not done as he was instructed by his handlers, Wood alleged there was a likelihood of him facing “detrimental consequences.”
“After witnessing repeated brutality at the hands of my coworkers (Police), I tried to resign,” Wood wrote. “Instead I was threatened with arrest by pinning marijuana and alcohol trafficking charges on me if I did not follow through with the assignments.”
Wood further wrote that as his health deteriorated, he grew increasingly worried the family of Thomas Johnson, one of the suspects implicated in the shooting, would be unable to secure his exoneration after his death. The former undercover police officer alleged Johnson was arrested after the shooting to protect his cover as well as the “the secrets of the FBI and NYPD,” ABC News reported.
Per Wood’s request, the details of the letter were revealed by his cousin after his death. “It is my hope that this information is received with the understanding that I have carried these secrets with a heavy heart and remorsefully regret my participation in this matter,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the daughters of Malcolm X have called on authorities to reopen investigations into the assassination of their father following the revelation of the contents of the letter.
“Several months ago, the Manhattan district attorney initiated a review of the investigation and prosecution that resulted in two convictions for the murder of Malcolm X,” the NYPD said in a statement, according to BBC. “The NYPD has provided all available records relevant to that case to the district attorney. The department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
The FBI is, however, yet to comment on the revelation.