Did NYPD Know Malcolm X Would Be Assassinated And Tip Off Reporter Jimmy Breslin?

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Jimmy Breslin

[Black Star News Exclusive]

Fifty years ago today, Malcolm X, one of the greatest leaders of Black America, and of all Africans period, was gunned down in a crime still shrouded in mystery to this very day.

Was the NYPD involved or did police know about the impending murder and let it happen? And were some reporters, including Jimmy Breslin, tipped off that something was about to go down?

On February 21 1965, El- Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Malcolm X, was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.

The official story is that Malcolm was killed because of his rift with the Nation of Islam and with the man who was once his spiritual leader: Elijah Muhammad whom he had fallen out with after accusing him of fathering several children with young employees.

But from the very beginning, many people have charged that the hidden hand of government forces was at play in orchestrating the execution. Speculation has abounded as to whether intelligence agencies like the FBI and CIA were involved in Malcolm’s murder—with some saying it was a combined team effort by these governmental bodies, who many believe also killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Kennedy brothers. The files show that the FBI had been monitoring Malcolm X and Dr. King for years.

Now, Toby Rogers author of “The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC's Weed Kingpin”, about the history of the Mob in New York, makes a shocking claim in the introduction of his book, which will be released this weekend: that celebrated columnist and reporter Jimmy Breslin was tipped-off by someone in the NYPD to go the Audubon Ballroom, presumably because it was known something monumental was about to happen regarding Malcolm X.

The charge that elements in the NYPD were involved, somehow, in the murder of Malcolm X is nothing new. Legendary journalist, the late Gil Noble, explored that theme on his “Like It Is” program. In fact, one of the mysterious questions Mr. Noble alluded to has also arisen in the work of Mr. Rogers as well, namely: who is the unknown person that was, initially, supposedly, taken into custody as one of the assassins?

Here is where Jimmy Breslin’s connection apparently comes in.

According to Rogers, after the assassination, Mr. Breslin, who worked then for The New York Herald Tribune, wrote a story for the newspaper which read: “Police Rescue Two Suspects.” However, Rogers states that after this initial story ran no further mention was ever made of this other unidentified suspect who is apparently not one of the three people—Talmadge Hayer, Thomas Johnson and Norman Butler—who would eventually be prosecuted for the murder of Malcolm.

Others have spoken about the disappearance of the second suspect before.

In 2005, on the 40th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination Rogers, who was interviewing Breslin, says he decided to question the legendary journalist on these curious circumstances of intrigue that Breslin supposedly witnessed on February 21, 1965.

Rogers claims Breslin started by telling him: “Well I was supposed to receive a journalism award in Syracuse that evening, but I got tip [from the NYPD] that I should go up to Harlem to see Malcolm X speak. I sat way in the back smoking a Pall Mall cigarette.”

But Rogers says when he tried to raise the subject of the second suspect and the suspicious omission from The New York Herald Tribune’s coverage, in follow-up and secondary stories about Malcolm’s killing, Breslin’s mood quickly changed.

“When I asked Jimmy about the reports of a second suspect and his strange disappearance, both in his Tribune story and the Times piece. All of the sudden Breslin got quite cagey,” Rogers said. He knew exactly what I was referring to and refused to talk any further.”

According to Rogers, this was Breslin’s response just before the interview ended: “Fuck it, I don’t want to know no more, that’s it! I don’t fucking know what is what. I don’t know if there was two editions or one. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to read it. Fuck it. Who cares! It’s 2005, I … fucking dead and disinterested.”

If Rogers’ allegations are true, is Jimmy Breslin, one of American journalism’s most respected voices, harboring deep secrets about the execution of Malcolm X? Does the celebrated journalist know something more about this political killing?

If Breslin was tipped-off by sources within the NYPD then it means the NYPD, at the very least, allowed the assassination to happen and did nothing about it.

Were people in the NYPD actually involved in the 1965 killing? Remember, many people have already questioned the mystifying lack of any police presence on the day Malcolm was killed—which was reportedly unlike the usual police presence when Malcolm spoke in New York.

When The Black Star News contacted the NYPD's office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) and asked for a comment concerning Rogers' claims, this publication was asked to send the question via e-mail message. There was no response by deadline.

Was the mysterious unidentified “suspect” a police informant named William Bradley as Roland Sheppard, who wrote a recent Black Star News article alleges? Talmadge Hayer also fingered Bradley as the real assassin later. Bradley, who now resides in New Jersey, was also identified as the assassin in the late Manning Marable's book, "”Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

But back to Mr. Breslin. If Breslin was tipped-off by police, then, surely, after the assassination he must have known that people in the NYPD were aware an attempt was going to be made on Malcolm’s life. If this is so, why would he keep silent all these years?

When reached at his home yesterday evening, Jimmy Breslin was put on the telephone by his wife Ronnie Eldridge. After he was told of Roger's book and the quotes attributed to him, he said: "I don't remember. I don't remember."

The Black Star News then sent the quotes via e-mail message to Breslin using his wife's e-mail address. He was also asked if at the time he was tipped if he believed the police may have been involved in Malcolm’s assassination or allowed it to happen. Breslin's wife Ronnie Eldridge called back and said, "He's not questioning it but he really doesn't remember. We're getting old. He's 86. He really doesn't have anything to add."

Malcolm had already claimed government forces had infiltrated the Nation of Islam. Was the infighting that occurred in the Nation of Islam, at that time, a precursor to the COINTELPRO program that was used by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to create fratricidal friction in Black nationalist groups, later, like the Black Panthers?

Did the CIA, FBI and NYPD collaborate, and, use the internal conflict in The Nation of Islam as a cover to mask their murder of this great African man?

Two crucially important questions Mr. Rogers asks are: “Did the NYPD tell Breslin why he should go to Harlem?” And “Did Breslin know Malcolm X was going to be shot?”

Rogers thinks Breslin did know what was about to happen.

"I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'm willing to bet Breslin did know what was going to transpire that night as Malcolm walked across the stage of the Audubon Ballroom for the last time,” Rogers said. “When you combine the fact that Jimmy skipped the award show upstate and that he sat 'way in the back' of the ballroom. I find that quite telling. Do journalists normally try and steer clear of what they are covering? No. You try to get as close as you can to the action. Unless of course you know that something is about to go off. A bomb, a shooting, then you stand 'way in the back' so you don't get caught in the crossfire.”

 

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