Water Protector Arm May Need Amputation after Police Brutality at Standing Rock

Water protectors sprayed with water cannon in frigid weather near barricade.

Water protectors sprayed with water cannon in frigid weather near barricade.



Published November 22, 2016

CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – Sophia Wilanski, a 21-year-old non-Native water protector from New York City, was hit by a concussion grenade at the brutal attack by North Dakota law enforcement and national guard members on at the Breakwater Bridge on Highway 1806 near Standing Rock on early Monday morning.

As the result of her injuries sustained, her arm may need amputation. She is currently in a Minneapolis hospital.

Her father says his daughter went to Standing Rock a few weeks ago to “protect the environment.”

The brutal attack that included releasing tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, concussion grenades and spraying water protectors with high-pressurized water cannons in frigid temperatures.

Sophia Wilanski lost her arm to amputation as result of police brutality at Standing Rock. Photo by Kevin Gilbert

Sophia Wilanski severely injured as result of police brutality at Standing Rock. Photo by Kevin Gilbert

The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council released a statement on Monday that reported: Approximately 300 injuries were identified, triaged, assessed and treated by their physicians, nurses, paramedics and integrative healers working in collaboration with local emergency response.

These 300 injuries were the direct result of excessive force by police over the course of 10 hours. At least 26 seriously injured people had to be evacuated by ambulance to three area hospitals.

Police continuously assaulted demonstrators with up to three water cannons for the first 7 hours of this incident in subfreezing temperatures dipping to 22F (C) causing hypothermia in the majority of patients treated. Chemical weapons in the form of pepper spray and tear gas were also used extensively, requiring chemical decontamination for nearly all patients treated and severe reactions in many. Projectiles in the form of tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades led to numerous blunt force traumas including head wounds, lacerations, serious orthopedic injuries, eye trauma, and internal bleeding.

Every emergency medical unit from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation responded to the incident and additional ambulances were sent from Cheyenne River Sioux tribe (South Dakota), Kidder County, and Morton County. 3 seriously injured patients were transported directly by ambulance from the scene and another 23 patients were transported by ambulance after initial assessment and treatment in camp. Injuries from the mass casualty incident include:

An elder who lost consciousness and was revived on scene
A young man with a grand mal seizure
A woman shot in the face by a rubber bullet with subsequent eye injury and compromised vision
A young man with internal bleeding who was vomiting blood after a rubber bullet injury to his abdomen
A man shot in the back near his spine by a rubber bullet causing blunt force trauma and a severe head laceration
Multiple fractures secondary to projectiles fired by police

The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council condemns the excessive police violence and calls upon law enforcement to cease and desist these nearly lethal actions. Specifically, we demand the cessation of water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 3:35 p.m.- Eastern Time. An earlier version reported that Ms. Wilanski’s arm was amputated. Doctors are working save her arm. Native News Online apologizes for having the story wrong.

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