The Justice Department has declined a request from Alvin Sykes, an advocate for justice in civil-rights era cold cases, to renew the investigation into the assassination of Malcolm X.
The Justice Department stated that the statute of limitations had run out and that there were no federal laws that would apply to have the case reopened.
“Although the Justice Department recognizes that the murder of Malcolm X was a tragedy, both for his family and for the community he served,” the department said in a statement, “we have determined that at this time, the matter does not implicate federal interests sufficient to necessitate the use of scarce federal investigative resources into a matter for which there can be no federal criminal prosecution.”
The decision could possibly mark the end to a case many historians feel is unsolved, although there are many theories as to who may have assassinated the civil-rights leader.
Many of these theories were covered in Manning Marable’s latest book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, which implicated the Nation of Islam, the Central Intelligence Agency, the New York Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as all possibly having a role in the leader’s death in 1965.
By the end of the book, members of the Nation of Islam detail their
plot to murder Malcolm X in New York’s Audubon Ballroom with his wife and
children present. National of Islam members staked out the ballroom months before and identified who would pull the trigger and finish him off.
Manning also cites in his book a reluctance by the CIA, FBI, and NYPD
to turn over records and documents that should be public information
by now. One officer states that the resources used to watch Malcolm should have been used to help him, since he sought to uplift blacks
rather than hate whites.
The Justice Department has reopened the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy in the past but felt that Malcolm X’s murder did not rise to or deserve the same level of treatment.
Experts have written that the case could indeed be reopened under the Emmet Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, but the department did not go into detail in its statement about why the case didn’t fit the criteria. Sykes plans to appeal the decision to President Barack Obama, to Congress, and to local law enforcement agencies.
Malcolm X did indeed live a life of reinvention. From hustler turned Nation of Islam national spokesman to orthodox Muslim leader, X inspired many with his militant approach to civil rights for African Americans. Upon leaving the Nation of Islam and changing his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, he was able to spread his message worldwide before he met his demise at the hands of murderers. He toured all over, speaking in front of elite colleges and universities all over the world to preach his message of black supremacy, which eventually transformed to one of unity amongst all races and an advocacy of human rights.
The controversial leader was gunned down while speaking to a group in Manhattan on February 21, 1965. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted but have maintained their innocence, despite confessing to the murder at the time.