#NoDAPL Must Stop Creating Situations Where People Get Hurt

Law enforcement stands off with #NoDAPL protesters on Sunday, November 20, at the Backwater Bridge along Highway 1806. Photo via Morton County

During the riot at the Backwater Bridge on Sunday one protester saw her arm get mutilated.

You can see photos posted by one of the #NoDAPL factions below. I warn you that they are graphic, so if you do want to see them please don’t scroll down. UPDATE: ND authorities have announced an investigation into a explosion at the Sunday riot. They aren’t tying it to Wilanski’s injury officially, but it seems likely the incident was related.

The woman’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.

The protesters say Wilanski was injured by a law enforcement “concussion grenade.” But law enforcement sources I’ve spoken to said they didn’t use concussion grenades. They used “flash bang” grenades which are a very different thing. Flash bangs, or stun grenades, create a lot of light and sound but very little explosion. Concussion grenades contain a lot more explosives and are intended to kill or injure.

State authorities I’ve spoken to confirm that the photos of Wilanski’s injuries are real – she apparently showed them to Bureau of Indian Affairs officials – but they say it’s unlikely that a flash bang or any other tool used by law enforcement Sunday could have caused that injury.

This horrible, but barring some revelation of extreme negligence on the part of law enforcement, the blame for Wilanski’s injury and every other injury to date lays on the extremist factions of the #NoDAPL movement who insist on unpeaceful, unlawful protests.

I’m told the matter is under investigation, but that authorities believe Wilanski was either injured while protesters were trying to use a semi truck to yank the burned trucks off the bridge (apparently the chain broke multiple times) or when she was setting up propane tanks to explode. The protesters have used homemade bombs in the past, and authorities say they were messing around with propane tanks on Sunday.

I can’t say conclusively which side has the right of this. Wilanski is in Minnesota now where she’s had surgery on her arm. There has been an investigation initiated into what happened.

Either way, many are blaming law enforcement for this injury and some 26 others on Sunday night, and they shouldn’t. The police didn’t create that riot Sunday night. Protesters chose conflict with the police. They chose to disobey police orders to stay off the bridge where they had no right to be. They’ve chosen again and again to pick fights with the police.

A tribal elder is blaming extremists in the #NoDAPL movement for starting the riot on Sunday. That’s a fact that’s being glossed over by much of the media coverage.

To this date – thanks to the training and professionalism of our law enforcement authorities and no thanks at all to the reckless antics of the protesters – we’ve seen only minor injuries to cops and protesters alike. Wilanski’s is, to my knowledge, the most serious injury to date by a country mile. And it appears it may be life altering for her. Some are saying her arm has been or will be amputated.

This horrible, but barring some revelation of extreme negligence on the part of law enforcement, the blame for Wilanski’s injury and every other injury to date lays on the extremist factions of the #NoDAPL movement who insist on unpeaceful, unlawful protests.

If you pick enough fights with police, who have a mandate to enforce the law, eventually someone is going to get hurt.

As gruesome as it sounds, I think some factions of the #NoDAPL movement have been hoping for something like this.

Blood, like riots, gets headlines. Here are the photos. I warn you again, they’re gruesome.

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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