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Recent Williams College grad critically injures arm from concussion grenade at Dakota pipeline protest

Sophia Wilansky has already undergone multiple surgeries to try to save the arm.

Sophia Wilansky, 21, is a 2016 graduate of Williams College.Go Fund Me

A 21-year-old woman with Massachusetts ties may lose one arm after she was hit by a concussion grenade while protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, her father confirmed during a press conference in Minnesota Tuesday.

Sophia Wilansky, a 2016 graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, has already undergone multiple surgeries after the grenade struck her arm sometime during the night.

“The force of the explosion blew the bone out of her arm and all of the arteries and all of the muscle that supports her arm,” her father, Wayne Wilansky, said at the press conference in front of a hospital in Minneapolis. “If she maintains her arm, she will have very minor function. It’s a very difficult decision, obviously, for a 21-year-old girl to have to make."

A Go Fund Me account set up Monday has already raised more than $200,000 to help in Wilansky's recovery. She will need at least 20 surgeries if she tries to save the arm, her father said.

Wilansky, a New York resident, has also protested against hydraulic fracking, taking part in demonstrations at numerous sites in New York and around New England.

In June, she was arrested while protesting Spectra Energy's construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, where she sat in a trench with five other protestors to temporarily hault work on the project. She was due in West Roxbury District Court this week, Boston Magazine reported.

Wilansky was also one of 26 people hospitalized after a small explosion at the protest at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, the LA Times reported. Police had reportedly soaked protestors with low-pressure water cannons as temperatures reached below freezing, resulting in more than 200 people being treated for hypothermia.

Protestors have been blocking the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since April.

The pipeline would run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which activists say would threaten the water supply on the Native American reservation.

Through her father, Wilansky said she hopes to keep the focus on the indigenous people and the environment.

“She is focused on the fact that this is not about her," her father said at the press conference. "It’s about what we are doing to our country and the native peoples and about what we’re doing to our environment."

 

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