Queens leaders call for passage of legislation that aims to investigate unsolved civil rights crimes

State Senator James Sanders is urging passage of his legislation into the assassination of Malcolm X after a deathbed confession shed new light on an alleged conspiracy. (Photo courtesy of Sanders' office)

On the 56th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, two southeast Queens lawmakers demanded the enactment of their legislation related to the investigation and promote truth and justice for unsolved civil rights crimes.

State Senator James Sanders and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel called for the passage of two measures following a “shocking new deathbed confession” that has prompted more questions about the murder of the human rights champion who lived in East Elmhurst.

Malcolm X’s three daughters went public with a letter described as the “deathbed confession” of former undercover NYPD officer Ray Wood claiming responsibility for making sure the leader’s security detail was arrested days before his 1965 assassination at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted in the shooting, but Malcolm X’s daughters and their attorney, Ben Crump, are calling for the case to be re-opened and investigated in further detail in light of the new evidence, which purports a conspiracy between the NYPD and the FBI.

Sanders started calling on Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and other government officials to reopen the investigation six years ago. Vance’s office said the review of the case is “active and ongoing,” and the NYPD said it is providing all available records relevant to the assassination to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

“Malcolm X was a great leader, a great human being, who championed truth, justice and freedom for everyone,” Sanders said. “No matter how many decades have passed since the death of Malcolm X, those responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sanders, with support from Vanel, introduced legislation that would require the state Attorney General’s office to conduct an annual study of unsolved civil rights cases of crimes committed no later than Dec. 31, 1979, and provide funds for local and state law enforcement to pursue investigations. A second measure would establish a collection of civil rights cold case records within the New York State Archives and create a review board for unsolved civil rights crimes.

“Malcolm X was a great American hero who was tragically murdered,” Vanel said. “Over 50 years later, there remains many questions unanswered. There is no statute of limitations on justice.”

Malcolm X and his wife Betty Shabazz lived with their four daughters at 23-11 97th St. in East Elmhurst in the 1960s. The house was firebombed on Feb. 14, 1965, just days before the assassination. The street outside the home was renamed Malcolm X Place in 2005.

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