John Newland, NBC News, May 11, 2013
Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of the late civil rights activist Malcolm X, was killed Thursday in Mexico in an apparent beating outside a bar.
Shabazz, 28, had traveled to Mexico to meet with a leader of a California activist and rights group known as Rumec, according to a report in Talking Points Memo, which quoted Juan Ruiz, a member of the organization. The leader, Miguel Suarez, had been deported last month to Mexico by U.S. officials.
Suarez told The Associated Press that Shabazz had traveled to Mexico to support him and his movement. He said he was with Shabazz when Shabazz was beaten up at a bar near Plaza Garibaldi, a downtown square that is home to Mexico City’s mariachis.
“We were dancing with the girls and drinking,” Suarez said. Then the owner of the bar wanted them to pay a $1,200 bar tab for music, drinks and the women’s companionship.
Suarez said a man with a gun took him to a separate room and he heard a violent commotion in the hall. He said he escaped and came back minutes later in a cab to look for Shabazz, whom he found on the ground outside the bar.
“He was in shock. His face was messed up,” Suarez told the AP, saying he took Shabazz to a hospital but that his friend died hours later of blunt-force injuries.
Shabazz had a turbulent childhood and adolescence. His mother, Qubilah Shabazz, was indicted on charges of plotting to kill the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who some suspected was involved in Malcolm X’s assassination. Qubilah Shabazz was Malcolm X’s second daughter.
In light of his mother’s legal and personal troubles, Shabazz was placed at a young age in the custody of Betty Shabazz, his grandmother and Malcolm X’s widow. On June 1, 1997, Shabazz, then 12, set a fire in his grandmother’s Yonkers, N.Y., apartment that left the woman critically injured. She died later that month from those injuries.
Shabazz pleaded guilty to setting the blaze and was sentenced to 18 months in juvenile detention for manslaughter and arson. That sentence could be re-evaluated every year until he turned 18.
He got out after four years, but two years later, at age 18, he landed in prison on a charge of attempted robbery.
Months after his release in 2006, Shabazz was arrested again after punching a hole in the window of a doughnut shop.