MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 23 (UPI) — A female protester’s left arm was “pretty much blown” off by grenade launched during a confrontation with police near Dakota Access oil pipeline in western North Dakota, her father said.
Sophia Wilansky, of New York City, underwent surgery at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Wayne Wilansky said at a news conference Tuesday. Christine Hill, a spokeswoman at HCMC, said Tuesday that Wilansky was in serious condition.
He said a doctor told the family that she will probably face up to 20 surgeries to save her arm and hand. The father said the grenade “blew the bone out of her arm.”
The Morton County Sheriff’s Office said authorities did not use concussion grenades or any similar devices during the protests Sunday. Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said officers reported an explosion in the area, but said they only used pepper spray and water hoses.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Maxine Herr told the Los Angeles Times the woman was possibly hurt while protesters were “rigging up their own explosives” — propane bottles to be thrown at police.
But Wayne Wilansky claims several witnesses saw officers throw a grenade at her.
Also, he said his daughter told him authorities fired the grenade at her forearm and she was hit by 14 rubber-coated bullets.
“I told her that I did a little bit of an interview with a few reporters, and she said please go and tell them it’s not about me, it’s about the indigenous peoples,” Wayne Wilansky said during the news conference. “Even though she’s lying there with her arm just about blown off, she’s not doing this for herself.”
Sophia Wilansky, a recent graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts who joined the protest three weeks ago, was one of at least 17 protesters hospitalized after demonstrators attempted to move past a blocked bridge on a state highway.
The sheriff’s office described the situation as a riot involving about 400 demonstrators.
She was airlifted to the Minneapolis hospital.
About 125 people attended a vigil outside the hospital late Tuesday afternoon.
Demonstrators are backing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which opposes the 1,200-mile, four-state pipeline to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois.
A medical fund on GoFundMe started Monday has raised $297,367 from 11,085 people by Wednesday morning. The goal is $500,000.