FBI accuses American Indian Movement of killing black civil rights activist in '73 SD uprising

The Associated Press

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Robinson family shows civil rights activist Ray Robinson. Documents recently released by the FBI to a Buffalo, N.Y., lawyer shed new light on the 40-year-old case of Robinson, an activist and follower of Martin Luther King Jr. The FBI says Robinson was killed during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, and it suspects militant members of the American Indian Movement are responsible. His body was never found. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Robinson Famiily, File)

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Buswell-Robinson, 69, questions that account and believes Robinson was in the Wounded Knee occupation area for hours, not weeks. She said the most likely account of her husband's death is one passed on to her by Barbara Deming, a writer and political activist who was asked by Buswell-Robinson in the mid-1970s to look into the killing. She relayed the story to Buswell-Robinson in letters years after the disappearance.

According to Deming's account, Robinson was eating oatmeal one day but hadn't yet checked in with an AIM leader. He was ordered to report to the leader immediately but said the check-in had to wait until he was finished eating. He was then shot, according to the story.

"Ray did not respond well to that authoritative direction," Buswell-Robinson said.

The wounded Robinson was taken to a clinic, but the FBI hasn't pinned down what happened next.

For decades, AIM leaders have denied knowledge of Robinson's death. One witness told agents that AIM leader Vernon Bellecourt, who died in 2007, knew Robinson had been killed and "made a statement to the effect that AIM had 'really managed to keep a tight lid on that one' over the years.'"

AIM leader Dennis Banks did not return a message left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Clyde Bellecourt questioned why the FBI wasn't spending its time investigating the many unsolved Native American deaths during Wounded Knee.

"There's never been a grand jury hearing on any of them," he said.

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