MEXICO CITY (AP) — Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of political activist Malcolm X, died in Mexico City after a violent dispute in a bar, Mexican authorities said Friday. He was 28.
City prosecutors are investigating the attack that sent Shabazz to a nearby hospital where he died Thursday of blunt-force trauma injuries. United States officials confirmed that Shabazz was killed in Mexico City.
Much like his grandfather, Shabazz spent his youth in and out of trouble. At 12, he set a fire in his grandmother’s apartment, a blaze that resulted in the death of Malcolm X’s widow. After four years in juvenile detention, Shabazz was later sent back to prison on attempted robbery and assault charges.
In recent years, the first male heir of Malcolm X seemed to seek redemption, saying he was writing a memoir and traveling around the world speaking out against youth violence. Before his trip to Mexico, he reached out to a group of Mexican construction workers in the U.S. and then visited in Mexico with a leader who had been deported.
Malcolm X, who inspired books and the 1992 Hollywood movie named after him, was shot to death as he delivered a speech in a Harlem ballroom in 1965. Shabazz’s mother was only 4 at the time.
The Shabazz family said in a statement they were saddened to hear of the death of Malcolm X’s grandson.
“To all who knew him, he offered kindness, encouragement and hope for a better tomorrow,” said the statement. “We will miss him.”
Labor activist Miguel Suarez, who was traveling with Shabazz, told The Associated Press that his friend was beaten up at a bar near Plaza Garibaldi, a downtown square that is home to Mexico City’s mariachis.
Plaza Garibaldi is popular with tourists, but the pair were at a bar across the street from the plaza in an area of rough dive bars tourists are warned against going to.
Suarez said he and Shabazz were lured to the bar on Wednesday night by a young woman who made conversation with the American in English. The Palace bar is on one of Mexico City’s busiest avenues.
“We were dancing with the girls and drinking,” said Suarez. Then the owner of the bar wanted them to pay a $1,200 bar tab, alleging that they should pay for music, drinks and the girls’ companionship.
“We pretty much got hassled,” he said. “A short dude came with a gun.”