Death came moments after Malcolm stepped up to a flimsy plywood lectern in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, just north of Harlem, to address 400 of the faithful and the curious at a Sunday afternoon rally of his fledgling Organization of Afro-American Unity. The extermination plot was clever in conception, swift and smooth in execution. Two men popped to their feet in the front rows of wooden folding chairs, one yelling at the other: “Get your hands off my pockets, don't be messing with my pockets.” Four of Malcolm's six bodyguards moved toward the pair; Malcolm himself chided, “Let's cool it.”
Volley: Then came a second diversion: a man's sock, soaked in lighter fluid and set ablaze, flared in the rear. Heads swiveled, and as they did, a dark, muscular man moved toward the lectern in a crouch, a sawed-off shotgun wrapped in his coat. Blam-blam! A double-barreled charge ripped up through the lectern and into Malcolm's chest. From the left, near the spot where the two men had been squabbling, came a back-up volley of pistol fire.
Malcolm tumbled backward, his lean body rent by a dozen wounds, his heels hooked over a fallen chair. The hall was bedlam. Malcolm's pregnant wife, Betty, rushed on stage screaming, “They're killing my husband!” His retainers fired wildly through the crowd at the fleeing killers. Four assailants made it to side doors and disappeared.
The man with the shotgun, identified by police as 22-year-old Talmadge Hayer of Paterson, N.J., dashed down a side aisle to the stairway exit from the second floor ballroom. From the landing, one of Malcolm's bodyguards winged him in the thigh with a .45-caliber slug. Howling in pursuit (“Kill the bastard!”), the ballroom crowd caught Hayer on the sidewalk, mauled him, and broke his ankle before police rescued him.
Hayer was charged with homicide. Five days later, police picked up a karate-trained Muslim “enforcer,” Norman 3X Butler, 26, as suspect No. 2.
The arrest of a Muslim surprised almost no one. For all his many enemies, Malcolm himself had insisted to the end that it was the Muslims who wanted him dead. They seemed to dog him everywhere he went; a bare week before his death, he was firebombed out of his Queens home, the ownership of which he had been disputing with the Muslims.
Malcolm X 1925-1965
Beyond the obvious role the Nation of Islam (NOI) played, I want to explore the role of government agencies. To do so, I am not going do my usual thing as I do when exploring the role of government agencies in the JFK assassination. I will not be quoting from books dedicated to investigating government conspiracy in Malcolm X's assassination, though I know there are a number of well written books on the subject. What I will do is quote from a single history book, the National Book Award finalist Malcolm X A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable. And I will use an evidentiary standard familiar to many investigators of the 9/11 conspiracy: LIHOP, or Let It Happen On Purpose, as opposed to MIHOP, or Made It Happen On Purpose.
I've always rolled my eyes at the "debate" between LIHOP and MIHOP as those acronyms were used to assign responsibility for the 9/11 debacle. To my mind, the two terms represent a logical fallacy, a distinction without a difference. It's quite possible the assassination of Malcolm X was LIHOP for the FBI and Martin Luther King was MIHOP. So fucking what?! They're still responsible. Whether they latch on to another organization's plot already in progress and help facilitate it by removing impediments or hatch the plot on their own, the intent to have the plot succeed is the same. I've written before about how the 9/11 Truth movement lost direction and momentum; perhaps if more people had understood the logical fallacy at play, the search for Truth might have lead to Justice.
For starters where the subject of conspiracy in the assassination of Malcolm X is concerned, let's look at the issue of security stripping. While Joseph E. Green in his review of Marable's book does an excellent job illustrating how unusual and often unwarranted security changes contributed to facilitating the assassinations of JFK, RFK and Fred Hampton, as well as the events of 9/11, I think Marable shows how the same factor was at play on February 21, 1965. Green quotes Marable in his review from page 445:
“For the detectives working the case, too many facts didn’t make sense. The request from Malcolm’s team that the usual police detail be pulled back several blocks from the Audubon seemed strange, as did the police’s agreement to do so in light of the recent firebombing. The detectives were also suspicious when they learned that nearly all the MMI and OAAU security had been unarmed and that none of the audience had been checked for weapons.”
As far as government agency complicity is concerned, Marable spells out how he sees the truth of the assassination of Malcolm X in his book as early as page 13:
"Although in 1966 three NOI members were convicted of the murder, extensive evidence suggests that two of these men were completely innocent of the crime, that both the FBI and the NYPD had advance knowledge of it, and that the New York County District Attorney's office may have cared more about protecting the identities of undercover police officers and informants than arresting the real killers."
The two innocent men erroneously convicted for the crime are Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. (Both were paroled during the 1980s.) Both men had alibis for the time of the assassination, yet were convicted largely by prosecution witness Cary 2X Thomas, who "prosecutors and police persuaded ... to revise his testimony" regarding the shooter, and undermined by defense witness Charles Kenyatta, who under cross-examination identified Johnson and Butler as members of an NOI "hundred-man enforcing squad." What was not revealed at the time was that Kenyatta was an informant for the NYPD (New York Police Department) and BOSS (Bureau of Special Services and Investigation), a secret operations unit within NYPD.
After their 1966 conviction, the patsies Butler and Johnson were sentenced to life in prison. The third man convicted, Talmadge Hayer, signed an affidavit in early 1978 that four other "torpedoes from New Jersey" were responsible for killing Malcolm X. Famed attorney William Kunstler petitioned to the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court for a new trial for Johnson and Butler. But the FBI refused to release its findings about the assassination to the court. On November 1, 1978, Justice Harold J. Rothwax denied the motion to set aside their convictions and refused to set a new trial. This was during a time when the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations was investigating the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy. Yet despite a petition signed by Ossie Davis, Huey P. Newton and Maxine Waters, no congressional hearings were held.
Regarding the four other men named in Hayer's affidavit, the most notorious is Willie Bradley. Identified by journalist Abdur-Rahman Muhammad as being "the man who fired the first and deadliest shot" killing Malcolm X, he was charged with robbing the Livingston National Bank of Livingston, New Jersey on April 11, 1968. But he received "privileged treatment", as Marable put it, and the charges against him were dismissed. He wrote about it in more detail on page 475:
Bradley's special treatment by the criminal justice system in 1969-70 raises the question of whether he was an FBI informant, either after the assassination of Malcolm X or very possibly even before. It would perhaps explain why Bradley took a different exit from the murder scene than the other two shooters, shielding him from the crowd's retaliation. It suggests that Bradley and possibly other Newark mosque members may have actively collaborated on the shooting with local law enforcement and/or the FBI. The existing evidence raises the question of whether the murder of Malcolm X was not the initiative of the Nation of Islam alone.
There have been some recent articles highlighting this research noting that Bradley is still alive, residing in Newark under the name Al-Mustafa Shabazz. It's certainly important to remember that there is no statute of limitations in this country for the crime of murder. But I believe it's more important to remember that to focus on the trigger man to the exclusion of the organizations that set him up just creates another patsy which deflects from the pursuit of real justice. But let's at least get the ball rolling on a pursuit that's been asleep for 50 years.
Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.