Sophia Wilansky Got Hurt Because the #NoDAPL Movement Used Violence as a Tactic

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

Over the weekend the New York Post ran an unfortunate profile of #NoDAPL activist Sophia Wilanksy. You’ll remember her as the woman who got her arm maimed during a violent conflict the anti-pipeline protesters instigated with law enforcement at the Backwater Bridge.

It’s all part of an on-going effort by left wing propagandists to rewrite the history of the #NoDAPL protests, particularly as we approach the one year anniversary this week of their most violent episodes.

The unfortunate part of the Post article is that Wilansky is portrayed as something of a victim. An excerpt:

It was 4 a.m. and the Williams College theater grad and lawyer’s daughter was on guard duty at the Backwater Bridge near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. It was dark, and she was bundled up in a puffer jacket against the 20-degree temperature.

She had volunteered, along with three others, to hold the ground in front of the span, which the protest army had cleared of police- and pipeline-company barricades earlier in the day.

Suddenly a cop on a loudspeaker yelled, “Get away!”

Instantly she was hit by three rubber bullets, in the groin, chest and left arm. She fumbled to pick up a plastic shield, but the onslaught escalated.

“I heard a loud blast and was knocked to the ground,” said Wilansky. “I was in complete shock.”

The explosion had ripped out the radius bone, muscle, nerves and arteries of her left arm, and her hand was hanging by a few threads of flesh.

The problem with this version of events is that it’s completely backward. It was the police who were on guard. They’d blocked the Backwater Bridge to stop the incessant attacks on the Dakota Access Pipeline construction to the north of the protest camps (most of which were illegally trespassing on federal land). Wilansky was injured when she and a group of her fellow political extremists attacked the police who were guarding the bridge.

At the time of Wilansky’s injury the protesters were using a semi truck and a chain in an attempt to rip away the barricades police set up on the bridge. They were also attempting to assemble some sort of explosive device, which is when Wilansky was hurt. But don’t take my word for it. This from the New York Times:

Around the time of the explosion, Lieutenant Iverson said, officers fired sponge and beanbag rounds at three people who had shielded themselves behind a length of plywood near a burned vehicle on the bridge. The three were thought to be acting suspiciously and refused orders to emerge, he said.

Officers saw someone roll metal cylinders to the protesters by the burned vehicle, Lieutenant Iverson said, and then heard an explosion. Afterward, he said, several protesters ran up, pulled a woman from under the vehicle and ran off. Three propane canisters were recovered from the vicinity of the explosion early Tuesday, he said.

The larger point here is that the violence on the Backwater Bridge happened because the protesters provoked it. The protesters repeatedly attacked the pipeline workers and their equipment. They used trespass and vandalism and violence in persistent attempts to stop the pipeline’s construction. When the police put up road blocks and check points to try and stop the violence, the protesters attacked the police.

All of the injuries which happened during the #NoDAPL protesters were the result of the protesters themselves creating situations in which people got hurt. Had the protesters been peaceful, had they restrained themselves to lawful tactics, nobody (including Wilansky) would have been hurt.

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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