Sunday’s confrontation between Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters (or "water protectors," as they have called themselves) and police could cost protester Sophia Wilansky an arm after police reportedly threw a grenade, said Wilansky’s father Wayne, according to the Associated Press. The confrontation comes after pipeline protests earlier this month saw 14 people arrested at North Dakota’s State Capitol.
Wilansky, a 21-year-old from New York, underwent multiple surgeries in a Minneapolis hospital for the arm injury, Wayne said Tuesday. Wilansky is said to be in serious condition.
According to Wayne, Wilansky said police threw a grenade at her during the confrontation in North Dakota near a camp site along the pipeline. However, the Morton County Sheriff's Office said concussion grenades were not used, nor were devices that produce a flash or loud sound. The sheriff’s office speculated the explosion may have been from small propane tanks, which law enforcement said protesters tampered to explode. The North Dakota Highway Patrol released a statement saying protesters had been spotted with “multiple silver cylinder objects" thought to be the tanks "including one that appeared to be intentionally punctured."
Wilansky released a statement through Wayne Tuesday describing the clash between protesters and police in which police also used water cannons (in freezing temperatures), pepper spray, and rubber bullets:
“At around 4:30 a.m. after the police hit the bridge with water cannons and rubber bullets and pepper spray they lobbed a number of concussion grenades which are not supposed to be thrown at people directly at protesters or protectors as they want to be called. A grenade exploded right as it hit Sophia in the left forearm taking most of the undersurface of her left arm with it. Both her radial and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident—it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her. Additionally police were shooting people in face and groin intending to do the most possible damage.”
The police and protester face-off led to 17 protesters being taken to hospitals for severe injuries, said Dallas Goldtooth, a protest organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. One officer was injured after being hit in the head with a rock.
"This is not Afghanistan, this is not Iraq. We don't throw grenades at people," Wayne said about police tactics.
A GoFundMe for Wilansky has raised $248,000 so far.