Assassination Attempts: Malcolm X Black Civil Rights Leader Part 4

About the assassination of Malcolm X black civil rights leader, biography of the assassins, the trial and verdict

The Victim: MALCOLM X black civil rights leader.

On March 11, 1965, the jury convicted the 3 defendants of the murder of Malcolm X.

Norman 3X Butler, 27, the 2nd convicted defendant, was a known and admitted Black Muslim. Not merely a member of the religious order, Butler belonged to the "Fruit of Islam," the elite Muslim security force. On the morning of the assassination, Butler had been treated by a doctor, Kenneth Seslowe of Jacobi Hospital, for superficial thrombophlebitis which resulted in his right leg's being bandaged and some oral medication prescribed.

Evidence exists that Butler was not even present in the ballroom at the time of Malcolm X's assassination. If he had been able to elude Malcolm X's security system on entering the ballroom that Sunday, and if he had indeed participated in the murder of Malcolm X, how did Butler plan on escaping from the scene of the crime while physically handicapped? Or was escape that necessary to him? Witnesses' testimony place Butler at the exit where Hayer was wounded by Reuben Francis. Could Butler have been "the 2nd man" arrested at the scene whose existence police denied?

Thomas 15X Johnson, 30, the 3rd convicted defendant, was a house painter and father of 4 children. He was a known Black Muslim. While in prison awaiting trial for the assassination of Malcolm X, and after his conviction, he strictly adhered to the sanctions of his religion down to the details of his diet.

Before the assassination, Johnson had been a companion of codefendant Butler. In fact, Johnson, Butler, and an unknown 3rd man had been arrested in January, 1965, for assault on Benjamin Brown, a Black Muslim defector.

Johnson denied being in the ballroom the afternoon of the assassination, although the prosecution placed Johnson as the man wielding the shotgun. Witnesses' testimony varies as to which of the 3-or if any of the 3-carried a shotgun.

The investigation of the assassination never established who ignited the crudely-made man's sock smoke bomb. During the trial, testimony revealed that Talmadge Hayer's finger-print had been found on a piece of film inside the sock but no one saw who set it ablaze in the back of the room. Hayer could not have set it on fire and at the same time rushed forward to attack Malcolm X. If the fingerprint wasn't a plant, and Hayer was involved in manufacturing the smoke bomb, he would-because of the time element involved in this diversionary tactic-have needed another person to ignite it.

The 2 men who caused the verbal disorder when Malcolm X 1st walked onstage may have been the actual users of the handguns. However, this was never proved, and it leaves open the possibility that there was at least one other accomplice.

All the conflicting testimony during the trial, all the unanswered questions that remain, the lack of a complete investigation, the disappearance of key persons involved-all of this continues to cast doubts on the identity of the true killers.

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