Former cop’s deathbed confession reveals his role in assassinating Malcolm X

At a press conference on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, almost 56 years to the day of Malcolm X’s assassination, his daughters came together with their attorney, Ben Crump, to read aloud a deathbed “non-confession” from Ray Wood, an infiltrator of various parts of the Black liberation movement, that states his supposed “coercion” by the FBI to murder the great leader and human rights fighter Malcolm X. Crump along with many other advocates are now calling for a reopening of the investigation into Malcolm X’s assassination. – Photo: National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

by Democracy Now!

The family of civil rights icon Malcolm X is demanding authorities reopen an investigation of his assassination, after new evidence was unveiled in a letter by a former police officer, Raymond Wood — who did not want the letter to be made public until after his death — wrote he was manipulated by New York police and the FBI, who covered up key details of a plot to kill Malcolm X. Wood says he was tasked with arresting members of Malcolm X’s security team. Raymond Wood’s cousin Reggie Wood read the letter at a press conference Saturday, a day before the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination in 1965.

Reggie Wood: “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 Audubon Ballroom door security on February 21st, 1965. On February 16th, 1965, the Statue of Liberty plot was carried out, and the two men were arrested, just days before the assassination of Malcolm.”

Democracy Now! is broadcast weekdays on more than 1,500 radio and TV stations, the largest public media collaboration in the country, and at www.democracynow.org, where archived shows, transcripts, podcasts and more can also be found. This segment was broadcast as a headline on Feb. 22, 2021.

The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee on the non-confession of Ray Wood 

Lessons in an age when Black lives still don’t matter 

by Zayid Muhammad, MXCC founding press officer

“I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target.” – Ray Wood, aka Ray Woodall, 2011 confession 

The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee joins with everyone who calls for the reopening of the case of Malcolm X. However, we are not and will not be among those looking to forgive and have any compassion for the late Ray Wood. 

We call his confession his non-confession because of two lies he tells. One, that he was coerced into doing what he did and two, he didn’t know that Malcolm was the target. 

His “confession” suggests that he was a novice and wrongly pressured into doing what he did that ultimately had a hand in Malcolm’s death. In fact, it is well known that before he infiltrated Malcolm’s Organization of AfroAmerican Unity (OAAU), he was an operative who infiltrated the Bronx branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). 

As such, it is also known that he was not simply an informant in that capacity – that he was in fact a provocateur seeking to provoke illegal activity to set up CORE’s leadership for prosecution, in particular, their leader Herb Callendar. There is also evidence that the Statue of Liberty plot, the plan that compromised key men in Malcolm’s security, was first floated to the CORE chapter Wood had penetrated and that it was Wood who promoted that idea among them then. 

Daughters Qubilah and Atallah giggle during play time with daddy, Malcolm X. – Photo: CBS News

Beyond being outraged for his role in facilitating the assassination with the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services (BOSS), we are outraged that this “confession” asserts that he was “not aware that Malcolm X was the target.” 

It is an absolute insult to the intelligence of all of us. 

Herman Ferguson and Yuri Kochiyama, both founding members of Malcolm’s OAAU and our organization, have always said that they also saw Wood at the Audubon at the assassination and saw him being aided away from the scene by the police as if he may have been wounded from the shootout that ensued between Malcolm’s soldier Rueben X Frances, who heroically hit one of the assassins, Talmadge Hayer, in the melee that ensued after Malcolm had been felled by the assassin team. 

Of course, we must remind everyone how heroically important Brother Reuben was in all of this. Had he not been armed and ready on that fateful afternoon, all of Malcolm’s killers would have gotten away scot free! 

Exonerate Walter Bowe, Bob Collier and Khaicel Sayyid now! Pay their families damages for what they went through. Pay the Shabazz family damages for the NYPD’s participating in the horrific trauma of setting up the spectacle slaughter of their father and our leader!

There is nothing innocent about Wood’s deeds here. Historian Garrett Felber reminds us that he received a promotion to second grade detective for his work in the Statue of Liberty 4 case – not something you would associate with someone facing coercion. 

Wood would continue to function as an undercover operative for at least six more years, infiltrating the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and the NY Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Ray Wood was no one’s innocent operative. He had in fact become an expert operative who produced desired results at critical times for his overseers. Deadly results at times as we are still reeling from the gravity of Malcolm’s murder. 

To be sure, Wood’s “work” in aiding Malcolm’s assassination draws parallels to another NewYork operative, one whose provocations also got him decorated and through law school. That was Edward Howlette. 

Malcolm X speaks, supported by his wife, Betty Shabazz, and four of their daughters. This was before the birth of the twins, Malikah and Malaak.

Howlette played a similar role in jamming Herman Ferguson and his co-defendant Arthur Harris. They would be charged with conspiring to kill moderate civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Ralph Bunche. Both opted for exile. Ferguson exiled himself in Guyana for 20 years. He faced prison at 69 when he returned to New York in an effort to clear his name. Harris exiled himself to Scandinavia never to return. 

We do want young organizers to pay attention to what they must learn as Hollywood now seeks to soften the deadly work of another operative who aided in the assassination of Fred Hampton. Your operational group discipline matters. 

Be wary of those, in the name of being the most militant, who seek to have folks engage in actions outside of your discipline. The tough guys, the sexually loose or drug reckless among you, watch them; or better yet, use your discipline to purge them from your ranks. They may not be who they say they are. 

Ray Wood – or Ray Woodall, one of his other aliases – can continue on in his journey to hell for all we care.

Exonerate Walter Bowe, Bob Collier and Khaicel Sayyid now! Pay their families damages for what they went through. Pay the Shabazz family damages for the NYPD’s participating in the horrific trauma of setting up the spectacle slaughter of their father and our leader! 

Making it most plain in conclusion: The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee does not wish to see anyone have any sympathy or prayers of compassion for this man and the dastardly deeds he has performed and the lies he has told – including those in this confession. 

We do feel for his family, who must be embarrassed and ashamed for disgraceful deeds that they had nothing to do with. However, as far as we are concerned, Ray Wood – or Ray Woodall, one of his other aliases – can continue on in his journey to hell for all we care. Let justice for his victims and victims’ survivors be served, and may the chickens continue to come home to roost! 

The purpose of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee is four-fold: 1) to honor and pay tribute to this great warrior, who at the time of his assassination was rapidly emerging as the leader of the Black Liberation struggle for land, independence and reparations here in the United States; 2) to actively participate in the struggle to bring freedom and justice to our freedom fighters; 3) to educate the young and not so young who have no direct knowledge of our fallen leader; 4) to carry forth his message of Black Liberation to our brothers and sisters in the New York metropolitan area. Reach the MXCC by phone 973-202-0745 or 917-346-8142, by mail at P.O. Box 380-122, Brooklyn, NY, 11238 and online at www.mxcc519.org.