A woman had her arm mostly ripped away in North Dakota as she was handing out water to some citizens who were protesting the installation of an oil pipeline in the state. Sophia Wilansky, 21, of New York City, who may lose her arm after much of it was blown away by a concussion grenade that her father says was intentionally aimed at her by police.
The protesters, many who are Native Americans, fear that the pipeline is a threat to the clear water that flows below the earth’s surface that is used for drinking water, and that the pipeline is also a threat to cultural sites.
On November 20th, witnesses say, a clash occurred as protesters trying to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway were turned back by authorities using tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses.
The Huffington Post reported that “that “several eye-witnesses” reported that authorities were throwing concussion grenades. Fragments of some foreign material were found in Wilansky’s wound.” Police have denied that they used any grenades during the melee.
Sophia’s father, Wayne Wilansky said the blast “destroyed” the bones, muscles, and arteries in his daughter’s left arm. He also said his daughter’s body had welts from more than a dozen rubber bullets and that she was “hurt on purpose.” He added, “I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”
Wilansky is undergoing treatment, with the prospect of 20 surgeries at a Minneapolis hospital.
According to a report in the Bismark Tribune, police said: “two males and a female were near a remaining burned vehicle” when “police ordered them to come out and then fired bean bags” to drive them away from a temporary barricade they had erected. “It was at this time an explosion occurred, and several protesters ran to the area, pulled a female from under the burned vehicle and fled the scene.”
Tensions have been running unusually high since law enforcement officials recently arrested 16 people at a demonstration, one day after hundreds clashed with the police over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
OUR FREE OPINION
A thorough investigation of this and other events that have occurred at these protest sites should commence immediately. The divergence of opinion and differences in the alleged factual accounting of what happened here are startling. Physical evidence collected must be preserved and made available to representatives of the injured without unnecessary delay. People need to know what happened. As a preliminary matter, it seems clear that if any stun grenades were thrown, and the police apparently deny that they were, the fragments found in the tissue of Ms. Wilansky could easily be compared to the elements or alloys of such grenades. A secondary question is whether the force used by the police is reasonable under the circumstances.