MINNEAPOLIS - A Dakota Access Pipeline protester is in a Minnesota hospital with a serious arm injury. But there are conflicting accounts, from protesters and authorities, as to how she ended up in the hospital.
During a news conference in front of Hennepin County Medical Center on Tuesday, Wayne Wilansky said his daughter, Sophia, of New York, was airlifted to the hospital from Standing Rock. He said his daughter was injured after police threw a concussion grenade at protesters early Monday morning.
Standing Rock: Portraits from the pipeline protest
"Even though she's lying there with her arm pretty much blown off she's focused on the fact that it's not about her, it's about what we're doing to our country and what we're doing to our native people," he said.
North Dakota Highway Patrol released information regarding an explosion around 3 a.m. Monday at Backwater Bridge, about the same time Wilansky says his daughter was injured.
Authorities said two men and a woman were found at the explosion site, using a barricade of plywood wrapped in a blue tarp to hide their activity under and around a burned vehicle on the north side of the Backwater Bridge.
After repeated orders from law enforcement to come out from behind the barricade, and attempts to force them out with direct impact of bean bags and sponge rounds, officers noticed subjects approaching the area, and one of them rolled several metal cylinders toward the people near the burned vehicle, authorities said.
“The subjects were given opportunities to retreat back, but it became obvious that they were tampering with the vehicle or planting a device,” said Highway Patrol Lieutenant Tom Iverson. “Their strange mannerisms led law enforcement to believe they were there for a purpose with a calculated effort to either cause harm or breach the line.”
After the cylinders were rolled near the burned vehicle, an explosion, witnessed by law enforcement, occurred and several protestors ran to the area, pulled a female from under the burned vehicle, and fled the scene.
Authorities do not know if that woman was Sophia Wilansky. They deny using any kind of explosive devices on protesters.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Wilansky to help pay medical expenses. It has raised more than $240,000 of the $300,000 goal as of Tuesday evening. According to the fund, Wilansky was "giving out bottles of water to protectors holding down the space when she was shot with a concussion grenade."