Malcolm Shabazz, the once-troubled grandson of Malcolm X, was killed in Mexico this week. While a statement was first issued via Twitter and Facebook by Shabazz family friend and public relations professional (for whom Shabazz once worked) Terrie Williams, Talking Points Memo’s Hunter Walker confirmed it separately with Shabazz’s friend Juan Ruiz of RUMEC San Jose.
Ruiz told TPM, “He was murdered. He was in Mexico City and I believe they attempted to rob him and he didn’t allow it, so they beat him to death and he died on his way to the hospital.”
Shabazz was reportedly in Mexico City to visit Miguel Suarez, one of the group’s leaders who was deported in April. Its leaders claimed that RUMEC, which stands for Revolutionary United Mexicans in Combat, was an effort to “have an economic base to foment a political movement” by eventually taking a construction company nonprofit in an effort to organize individual construction workers in San Jose. They said in March 2013, after a February event documented on their Facebook page, that they planned to work with Shabazz to build a mosque in Oakland.
Shabazz, who was reportedly attending John Jay College in New York, had been politically active in recent years, albeit in fringe causes like 9/11 trutherism. He said in a statement in March that his visits to Syria to study between 2008 and 2010 and to Libya with former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) in 2011 had aroused the suspicions of authorities and additionally documented a pattern of what he termed police harassment in Middletown, NY, where he had been a resident most of his adult life.
Shabazz’s political activities came after a troubled youth, which included his mother Qubilah’s 1995 arrest for conspiracy to kill Louis Farrakhan over what she then believed was his involvement in Malcolm X’s assassination. The charges were later dropped. But at the age of 12 in 1997, Malcolm Shabazz was arrested and charged with arson and the juvenile equivalent of manslaughter for setting a fire that killed his grandmother, Betty Shabazz. He pled guilty to manslaughter, was convicted of arson and served two years in a juvenile facility. In a 2003 interview with the New York Times, he admitted to setting the fire before recanting in a 2011 interview with the Amsterdam News. Shabazz was convicted in 2002 of attempted robbery after trying to steal $100 from a man after a party and spent nearly four years in prison. He was re-arrested in 2006 following an incident in which he reportedly punched a store window. He was reportedly released in 2008.
Malcolm Shabazz was 28 at the time of his death.
[Image via RUMEC San Jose on Facebook]