A new documentary from Netflix is putting pressure on the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to reexamine the case of slain civil rights leader, Malcolm X. This month makes 55 years since the former Nation of Islam minister, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was assassinated at the Audobon Ballroom in New York City.
The six-part docuseries, Who Murdered Malcolm X, provides significant evidence to discredit the convictions of two men, Khalil Islam who died in 2009 and Muhammad Abdul Aziz. Both served more than two decades for the activist’s death. It also sheds light on four additional men from a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, who were named in the 1970’s as having been connected to the killing.
In a statement to Pix 11, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s office said, “District Attorney Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter. He has determined that the district attorney’s office will begin a preliminary review of the matter, which will inform the office regarding what further investigative steps may be undertaken. District Attorney Vance has assigned Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Conviction Integrity Deputy Chief Charles King to lead this preliminary review.”
Casolaro, according to the New York Times, played a vital role in having the convictions of The Exonerated Five thrown out after it was proven that they were wrongfully imprisoned for raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989.
In the Netflix documentary Aziz maintains his innocence, but when asked by the central figure of the film, historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad to officially clear his name, he expresses doubt in the system that botched the case nearly 55 years ago.
“I just don’t believe in these people,” he says. “I got 20 years of my life to show that I shouldn’t believe in them.”
The Audobon Ballroom where Malcolm X lost his life has since been renamed The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. On Friday, Feb 21st, they will commemorate his life with a screening and discussion of the Netflix / Fusion TV docuseries.