It 'blew the bone out of her arm,' Standing Rock protester's dad says

21-year-old Sophia Wilansky's arm was shredded while in Standing Rock.
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Sophia Wilansky

Sophia Wilansky

"Even though she's laying there with her arm pretty much blown off, she's focused on the fact that it's not about her."

That's what Wayne Wilansky said of his 21-year-old daughter as she was about to go back into surgery at the Hennepin County Medical Center. "It's about the indigenous people, what's happening to them."

Sophia Wilansky had been in Standing Rock to protest against the construction of an oil pipeline. She suffered a serious, gruesome arm injury, and could end up losing her hand and arm.

Photos of Sophia's injury have circulated online – a portion of the 21-year-old's arm no longer resembles an arm. It's split open, with bone fragments clearly visible and shredded. The wound is gaping; muscle and flesh ripped away.

How she was injured hasn’t been verified – but Sophia's father and other protesters say it happened Sunday when she was struck directly by a concussion grenade. Demonstrators and law enforcement clashed for hours that evening, with some people (including U.S. Sen. Al Franken) questioning the use of police tactics during the encounter.

 News conference outside the HCMC Tuesday afternoon.

News conference outside the HCMC Tuesday afternoon.

"The force of the explosion blew the bone out of her arm," Wayne said Tuesday afternoon. "All of the arteries and all of the muscle that supports her arm, it just blew out."

A Morton County Sheriff's Department spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times they did not deploy concussion grenades, or anything that could have done that type of damage, and wasn't sure how the injury occurred.

Wayne said doctors have removed pieces of shrapnel from her arm and will be saving it as evidence.

According to Sophia's dad, she might need as many as 20 surgeries. Even if the surgeries do manage to save the arm, it likely won't be functional.

"We can't be throwing grenades at people who are peacefully protesting or singing and chanting and supporting our indigenous nations," Wayne said. "This is not Afghanistan."

While that was by fair the worst of Sophia's injuries, Wayne said his daughter also had welts all over her body from bullets. She had been hit at least 14 times, he said.

A HCMC spokesperson told GoMN Sophia is in serious condition as of Tuesday morning.

A GoFuneMe has raised more than $160,000 for Sophia's medical fund since being created Monday. A prayer vigil is planned for 4 p.m. outside Hennepin County Medical Center.

Wayne said Sophia recently graduated William's College and has been involved with activist protests before. She had been at Standing Rock for three weeks and had planned to stay the whole winter, he said.

We've reached out to the sheriff's department for a comment, and will update this story if we hear back.

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