Dennis Banks, Leader of AIM and Fugitive, Surrenders

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NBC Nightly News
Tom Brokaw/Mary Nissenson
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NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Fugitive leader Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement surrenders, after almost a decade on the run, to face charges on assault and rioting.



"Dennis Banks, Leader of AIM and Fugitive, Surrenders." Mary Nissenson, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 13 Sep. 1984. NBC Learn. Web. 31 March 2015.


Nissenson, M. (Reporter), & Brokaw, T. (Anchor). (1984, September 13). Dennis Banks, Leader of AIM and Fugitive, Surrenders. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"Dennis Banks, Leader of AIM and Fugitive, Surrenders" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 09/13/1984. Accessed Tue Mar 31 2015 from NBC Learn:


Dennis Banks, Leader of AIM and Fugitive, Surrenders

TOM BROKAW, anchor:

After almost a decade on the run, Indian activist Dennis Banks is behind bars again tonight. Banks was one of the founders of the American Indian Movement and back in 1973 he was making headlines. He became a fugitive after he was convicted of charges growing out of a riot. Mary Nissenson was in Rapid City, South Dakota today when he surrendered.


Banks has been a fugitive for nine years. Convicted in 1975 of assault and rioting, he fled before sentencing. Today, he said he was tired of running.

Mr. DENNIS BANKS (American Indian Movement): I just hope that whatever happens there will be, that my family and I will be able to be free soon.

NISSENSON: In 1973 Banks led a protest at the Custer County Courthouse because a white man who stabbed an Indian was not charged with murder. The protest became a riot. A few weeks later, he led the occupation of Wounded Knee. It lasted 71 days and one Indian died in the shootouts. He fled to Oregon, California, and finally New York on the Onondaga Indian reservation. There, he found himself unable to support his family. There was a small ceremonial protest outside the courthouse today. His lawyer, William Kunstler, didn’t want Banks to surrender.

Mr. WILLIAM KUNSTLER (Banks’ Attorney): My greatest fear is that he’s going to be killed.

NISSENSON: Russell Means, cofounder with Banks of the American Indian Movement, and who was once himself stabbed in prison, agrees Banks made a dangerous decision.

Mr. RUSSELL MEANS (American Indian Movement): I believe they’re going to try to kill him within the year.

NISSENSON: Banks will be sentenced in a few weeks. He knows he will almost certainly serve some time in prison, but says only by turning himself in now, did he feel he could ever truly be free again. May Nissenson, NBC News, Rapid City, South Dakota.