Rose Downwind’s body was discovered Wednesday evening.
Published December 13, 2015
LEECH LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – Upon hearing the word his granddaughter, Rose Downwind, had been murdered and her remains were found this past Wednesday in a shallow grave near Bemidji, Minnesota, Dennis Banks, a co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), flew home on the next available flight from Japan.
He arrived in Minnesota late Friday night to be with his mourning family.
Downwind was 31-years-old and the mother of five children. She was the daughter of Darla Banks. Her family reported her missing in late October 2015.
Downwind’s ex-boyfriend, Marchello Cimmirusti, is in jail charged with killing her. On Friday, he was arraigned on a Second-degree Murder, While Under a Restraining Order charge. Cimmirusti is the father of four of Downwind’s five children. At the time of Downwind’s murder he had a restraining order forbidding him from being in her presence.
Two other men have been charged with assisting Cimmirusti dispose of Downwind’s remains.
Banks spoke with Native News Online on Sunday night candidly about his family, as they grapple with the harsh reality Downwind was murdered and her remains were dosed with gasoline and set on fire.
“I’m outrageously angry at this guy for what he did,” said Banks. “We told Rose many times not to go back to him. The relationship was a violent one for most of the time they were together. She would leave him and then go back. Her mother told her not to go back and I told her not to go back to him.”
Dennis Banks (left) led the Longest Walk IV: Reversing Diabetes enroute to the White House in July 2011. Photo by Levi Rickert
Beginning on February 13, 2016, Banks is set to lead the Longest Walk V: War on Drugs to bring awareness to too many Native people using and dying from drugs. The Longest Walk V: War on Drugs will be a walk across the United States from San Diego to Washington, D.C.
“I think we need to expand our theme for this Longest Walk to include violence against Native women, who are being abused because of drugs – and those where no drugs are involved,” commented Banks.
“I told some AIM leaders this morning, ‘This is a wake-up call for us.’ I think it is time we start addressing the violence committed against our Native women. We need more domestic violence treatment centers for our Native women. We need to get our men into men’s societies to learn how to take better care of our Native women. Right in our homes is domestic violence. When it came to us how she died tragically, it hit home,” stated Banks.
Banks said he saw Rose’s children last night and gave them Japanese rice crackers that they love.
Banks said the family cannot even plan a funeral because they were informed Sunday morning that the coroner will not release Downwind’s remains for at least another two weeks while more forensic science is used.
“Darla was rightfully so very upset when she returned with the news they would not release her Rose’s remains,” said Banks.
Banks said he feels the Bemidji Police Department did a tremendous job in its handling of the case.