Welp, it only took the better part of six decades, but two of the three Black men accused of assassinating civil rights icon Malcolm X are set to be exonerated after spending more than 50 years professing their innocence, which the third person who admitted to the killing repeatedly confirmed.
Now, one of the men falsely accused of killing X is dead, and they had both been released from prison already, so this isn’t some feel-good story about justice being served. This is yet another story about America pretending to make up for its oppressive past after the fact.
According to The New York Post, 83-year-old Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, will have their convictions tossed on Thursday, following a nearly two-year investigation into the 1965 killing of the man we all know America was not very fond of.
“The events that brought us here should never have occurred,” Aziz said in a statement, the Post reported. “Those events were and are the result of a process that was corrupt to its core—one that is all too familiar—even in 2021. While I do not need a court, prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am glad that my family, my friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known, officially recognized.”
There’s no reason it should have taken this long for an earnest investigation into the death of arguably one of the most well-known freedom fighters in America’s history to take place. Especially when a proper investigation would have freed two men whose lives were stolen from them by the state. It’s especially egregious considering the fact that Mujahid Abdul Halim, the third man found guilty March 1966 for Malcolm’s killing before being paroled in 2010, testified in court that Aziz and Islam had “nothing to do with it,” while admitting that he did take part in the shooting.
In the end, it appears to have taken a Netflix docuseries, Who Killed Malcolm X?, to finally light a fire under the District Attorneys’ office and prompt it to publicly announce it was conducting a review on the case in February of last year.
The review found that there was no physical evidence linking Aziz or Islam to the murder or even to the crime scene and that both had alibis backed by testimony. The probe also revealed that evidence of their innocence had been hidden from the defense at their trial by the FBI and the NYPD, which makes this the perfect time to remind you all that, in February, Malcolm’s family alleged that both the FBI and NYPD actually played a role in his death.
Aziz was paroled in 1985 and Islam was released in1977, but both men spent decades trying to clear their names even after they were let out of prison. Because being set free isn’t really freedom when you’re still guilty in the eyes of the law.
It’s just a shame that both these men spent most of their life never seeing true freedom and that one of them never lived to see his name cleared.