ND Authorities Investigating Explosion at Sunday’s #NoDAPL Riot Which Injured Woman

#NoDAPL protesters clash with law enforcement officials at the Backwater Bridge along Highway 1806 in rural Morton County. Photo via Morton County

Earlier today I wrote about photos of a #NoDAPL protester with a grievous injury to her arm (photos here, they’re quite graphic) which the activists have been blaming on a grenade thrown by law enforcement officers.

Officials I’ve spoken to said they were only using flash bangs which they say could not have caused that sort of an injury.

Today the ND Joint Information Center has sent out a press release indicating that they’re investigating an explosion which occurred during the Sunday right at which a female protester was injured.

You can read the full release below. Here’s an excerpt:

Officers on the scene of the explosion say two males and a female were using a barricade to hide their activity under and around the remaining burned vehicle stationed 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 less than lethal direct impact of bean bags and sponge rounds, officers noticed subjects approach the area with one of them rolling multiple silver cylinder objects toward the subjects positioned under or around the burned vehicle. It was at this time an explosion occurred and several protestors ran to the area, pulled a female from under the burned vehicle, and fled the scene.

Upon investigation, law enforcement investigators found one pound propane cylinders including one that appeared to be intentionally punctured and other debris in the area, including large rocks and glass jars consistent with the design of Molotov cocktails. Other evidence was taken and is currently being investigated.

The woman with the arm injury’s name, which has been publicized by the protesters, is Sophia Wilanski. She’s been active at protests against pipelines for some time. You can see her in a photo here participating in a mock mass grave next to a pipeline in Massachusetts, something for which she was arrested. Earlier this year she was arrested at the #NoDAPL protests for attaching herself to construction equipment.

As of now law enforcement agencies aren’t saying on the record that she’s the woman described in this release, but that seems very likely. UPDATE: I just asked a state official if it’s fair to link this investigation to Wilanski. “Yes,” was their answer.

The Bismarck Tribune has an update on Wilanski’s condition at a hospital in Minnesota.

UPDATE: The ND Joint Information Center has released some photos of weapons used by #NoDAPL protesters during the Sunday riot. “In the process of investigating the area of the Backwater Bridge this morning where law enforcement reported hearing an explosion at approximately 3:00am on Nov. 21, the following improvised weapons have been found,” the NDJIC states in a release. “They include small propane tanks rigged as improvised explosive devices, and various slingshots and rocks.”

Here are the photos:

image001 (1) image002 (1) image003 (1)

UPDATE: Back in October when #NoDAPL rioters blocked Highway 1806 law enforcement officers found propane tanks embedded in some of the hay bales they were using to block the road.

Here’s one of the photos Morton County released (you can see all of them here):

Copy of DSC_1776

We’ll see what comes of the above referenced investigation, but for what it’s worth, it does appear as though the #NoDAPL folks have tried to use propane tanks as explosives in the past.

Here’s the full release:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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