Finally cleared: Two men wrongfully convicted of murdering Malcolm X exonerated 55 years later

A historic movement filed in a New York Supreme courtroom Thursday exonerated the accused two men beforehand convicted in reference to the homicide of Malcolm X.

For over half a century, Muhammad A. Aziz (aka Norman 3X Butler) and Khalil Islam (aka Thomas 15X Johnson) have been blamed for the Feb. 21, 1965 killing of the civil rights chief at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom. Though the 2 men have reserved their claims of having by no means dedicated the cold-blooded deed, their innocence has hardly been thought of believable, till Nov. 18, a date that allowed surviving Aziz, 83, to stroll free. Islam died in 2009.

Manhattan District Legal professional Cy Vance Jr. stepped into 100 Centre St. on Nov. 18 and argued to New York County Supreme Court docket Administrative Decide Ellen Biben that each men didn’t commit the notorious homicide and must be exonerated of the crimes.

“But I want to begin by saying directly to Mr. Aziz and his family, to the family of Mr. Islam, and the family of Malcolm X, that I apologize for what were serious, unacceptable violations of the law and the public trust. I apologize on behalf of our nation’s law enforcement for this decades-long injustice, which has eroded public faith in institutions that are designed to guarantee the equal protection of the law. We can’t restore what was taken from these men and their families, but by correcting the record, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith,” DA Vance mentioned. 

This realization got here after investigations by not solely Vance’s workplace over the previous 22 months, but additionally years of advocating alongside famed civil rights legal professional David Shanies and the Innocence Venture, a nonprofit group whose mission is to clear the names of these wrongfully convicted within the American authorized system.

Inside the courtroom, Decide Biben acknowledged the 56-year-old mistake to Aziz and his representatives. 

Muhammad A. Aziz (aka Norman 3X Butler) was exonerated for the assassination of Malcolm X. Photograph by Dean Moses
Muhammad A. Aziz (aka Norman 3X Butler). was all smiles. Photograph by Dean Moses

“I regret that this court cannot fully undo the serious miscarriages of justice in this case and give you back the many years that were lost,” Decide Biben mentioned in her ruling that vacated the convictions. 

In response to his freedom, Aziz addressed the court docket, stating that the injustice that induced his conviction is because of a damaged and corrupt system that perpetuates discrimination towards Black individuals. 

“Those events were and are the result of a process that was corrupt to its core, one that is all too familiar to black people in 2021. While I do not need this court, these prosecutors or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am very glad that my family, my friends, and attorneys who have worked to support me all of these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known officially recognized. I am an 83-year-old who was victimized by the criminal justice system,” Aziz asserted. 

Aziz emerged from the rear of the constructing, flanked by relations. Regardless of spending a number of many years behind bars for an notorious crime the world now is aware of he didn’t commit, he was all smiles. 

Muhammad A. Aziz walks out a free man. Photograph by Dean Moses

“This is my family,” have been the one phrases he muttered by way of a beaming grin earlier than being whisked into a close-by automobile. 

In the meantime, in entrance of 100 Centre Road and surrounded by a legion of media cameras, Islam’s two sons, Ameen and Shadid Johnson, spoke about their gratitude who wore each sadden by the absence of their dad and mom. 

Ameen Johnson, son of Khalil Islam. Photograph by Dean Moses
Ameen and Shadid Johnson, sons of Khalil Islam. Photograph by Dean Moses

When requested if they’ll search monetary compensation for the strife they have been put by way of for over the previous 5 many years, each sons acknowledged that it’s one thing they’ll look into, however acknowledged that it’ll not deliver their father again. 

“I watched my mother carry the responsibilities by herself and the drama she went through. She struggled with sickness, she had to take care of us, and she had to worry about us, scared every time we left the house. Exoneration doesn’t take away everything,” Shadid Johnson mentioned.

surrounded by cameras Ameen and Shadid Johnson discuss their father. Photograph by Dean Moses

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