A 21-year-old woman, one of hundreds of protesters injured Sunday night as police clashed with activists protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, may lose her arm after she was struck by a projectile, according to activists.
Graphic images of the wounds sustained by the woman, identified by protesters as New York resident Sophia Wilansky, circulated on social media after law-enforcement officers turned water cannons on protesters near a bridge where the pipeline is planned.
"The best-case scenario is no pain and 10-20 percent functionality," Wayne Wilansky, Sophia Wilansky's father, told The Guardian. He said his daughter was struck by a concussion grenade thrown by a police officer, although authorities denied the claim.
A spokeswoman for the Morton County, North Dakota, Sheriff's Department told The Los Angeles Times that police didn't use concussion grenades during the confrontation.
"It wasn't from our law enforcement, because we didn't deploy anything that should have caused that type of damage to her arm," spokeswoman Maxine Herr told the Times. "We're not sure how her injury was sustained."
Medics with the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, based at the protest camps, said in a statement that they treated about 300 people after the hourslong standoff with law enforcement.
Medics said pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades were among the weapons used against protesters. However, Herr told The Times that activists were "rigging up their own explosives" in the form of propane bottles to be thrown at law enforcement.
None of the bottles exploded and no protesters were arrested for throwing the projectiles.
"The only explosion the officers heard was on the protesters' side," Herr said.
Dakota Access pipeline protesters, who call themselves "water protectors," said Sophia Wilansky was passing out water bottles when she was struck by a concussion grenade, injuring her arm. She was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. For eight hours Monday, she was in surgery, her father told The Guardian.
"She's devastated," he said. "She looks at her arm and she cries."
A GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising funds to pay for Sophia Wilansky's medical care garnered nearly $200,000 in donations in its first 18 hours online.
Protesters from across the country have descended on North Dakota in opposition to the 1,200-mile, four-state pipeline being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. Critics say it threatens drinking water on the nearby Standing Rock Sioux reservation and cultural sites. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has said no sites have been disturbed and that the $3.8 billion pipeline will be safe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.