North Dakota's governor, the local police and President Barack Obama all hold some responsibility in what happened to Sophia Wilansky, the 21-year-old who was injured by a grenade thrown by the police during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline, her father said during a press conference called by the American Indian Movement Tuesday.
“Our government is throwing grenades at our people who are there peacefully protesting,” Wayne Wilansky told reporters.
Despite his clear shock by what has befallen his daughter, he urged people to go to North Dakota or at least “bombard” their local representatives with phone calls to urge them to exert pressure on the government to stop the construction of the pipeline.
“I hold (responsible) the governor of North Dakota, the police, the national guard and whoever is in control of that area, I think they knew what was coming,” Wilansky, who is also acting as his daughter's lawyer, said.
“Even President Obama, who I love, said two, three weeks ago that we need to wait and see. There is nothing more to wait and see. Those people need help. You need to diffuse the situation before people die. And people will die if the situation isn't stopped.”
Accompanied by Native American leaders from AIM, he further stressed that people need to stand up to “what we are doing to the Native people. Once again we are going to brutalize the Native people as if we haven't done enough over the past 500 years.”
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department claimed the younger Wilansky was injured by a purported propane explosion which the unarmed people created.
“That is absolutely false, there is clear evidence,” Wilansky stressed. “There are multiple witnesses. And my daughter who is completely conscious said that they threw a grenade right at her. She saw them throw it right at her. We have pictures of the grenade. There is no question to what happened.”
Speaking as to why his daughter was protesting in North Dakota, an emotional Wilansky took aim at climate change deniers including President-elect Donald Trump. “Everyone around the world except for apparently our next president knows that climate change is real and devastating. And she is trying to save the next generation and the next generation.”
He said she was there for three weeks and was planning to stay there throughout the entire winter. She had her sleeping bag and was planning to support the Indigenous people through the North Dakota winter.
The 21-year-old was hit by a concussion grenade used by police at the protest site with such force that the arteries, median nerve, muscle and bone in her left arm were “blown away.” She is facing several surgeries over the next few months to try to save her arm.
“I told her that I did a little bit of an interview with a few reporters, and she said please go and tell them it’s not about me, it’s about the Indigenous peoples,” Wayne Wilansky told CBS News after the press conference. “Even though she’s lying there with her arm just about blown off, she’s not doing this for herself.”
At least 26 people were seriously injured when police violently cracked down on protesters Sunday night, sending some 200 people to be treated for hypothermia after the Sheriff's department deployed a water cannon in below-freezing temperatures.