Recent Williams College Grad Seriously Injured in Dakota Access Pipeline Protest | NECN


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Recent Williams College Grad Seriously Injured in Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

The father of 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky says that part of his daughter’s arm was blown off by a grenade thrown at protesters earlier this week



    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016)

    A Massachusetts college held a small prayer service Tuesday for a recent graduate who was severely injured during the protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

    The father of 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky of New York - a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts - said that part of his daughter’s left arm was blown off by a grenade thrown at protesters earlier this week. She was listed in serious condition and was reportedly undergoing surgery at a Minneapolis hospital.

    "The Williams community is deeply concerned about her," Williams College spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said in an email to The Boston Globe. "She has many friends here and was very active in environmental activism as a student. Our hearts go out to her during this terrible ordeal and we want her to know she is in our thoughts. We know this will be a long and tough recovery, and we send her our best wishes."

    About 15 people attended the prayer service.

    The local sheriff’s office in North Dakota says they did not use grenades during the violent clash with protesters late Sunday and early Monday near the camp along the pipeline route in southern North Dakota where protesters have gathered for months.

    The sheriff's office suggested in a statement Monday that an explosion heard during the skirmish might have been caused by small propane tanks that authorities said protesters had rigged to explode.

    Sophia Wilansky's father, Wayne Wilansky, disputed the claim by authorities, saying "there's multiple witnesses and my daughter, who was completely conscious, said they threw a grenade right at her."

    The North Dakota Highway Patrol in a statement Tuesday backed up the sheriff's office's version of events, saying officers during the skirmish spotted protesters with "multiple silver cylinder objects."

    Dallas Goldtooth, a protest organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

    A GoFundMe account for Sophia Wilansky had raised more than $288,000 in just one day, with more than 10,000 people contributing.

    The $3.8 billion pipeline to carry North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois is largely complete outside of a stretch under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe and others have been opposing the construction for months, saying the pipeline threatens the tribe's drinking water along with American Indian cultural sites.

    Protests have intensified as the dispute plays out, with total arrests since August reaching 528 on Monday.

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