Over 2 dozen injured as police clamp down on Dakota pipeline protest
Fresh clashes between police and pipeline protesters in the US state of North Dakota have left over two dozen people injured, authorities say.
The latest round of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) turned violent on Monday, after police and security contractors violently confronted a relatively large gathering of people near one of the construction sites.
At least 26 people had to be taken to the hospital after police resorted to using water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters in the area’s freezing cold temperatures, police confirmed.
Among the injured, there was a woman whose arm was nearly cut off due to a small explosion, witnesses said.
Video footage from the face-off showed the woman, identified as Sophia Wilansky, sitting in a vehicle with a gory arm injury. The injury was so serious that her bone was exposed.
Although police have refused to take responsibility for the injury, protest leader Dallas Goldtooth said that she “was struck directly by a concussion grenade last night on the front lines.”
Morton County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Maxine Herr denied the claim, saying medical officials first spotted the injured woman away from the action. “We’re not sure how her injury was sustained.”
She went on to blame the incidents on the protesters, saying Wilansky may have been hurt while they were “rigging up their own explosives” to target officers.
This is while she admitted that no one was detained by police over making or throwing explosives.
The protesters were trying to get past a bridge that had been blockaded since late October.
In a similar showdown on Sunday, police doused about 400 protesters with water cannon at the same location on Sunday.
According to activists, nearly 200 people had to be treated for hypothermia after the gathering.
“It was freezing and the escalation from the police was completely out of proportion,” said Rafe Scobey-Thal, an independent filmmaker was documenting the protests.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, more than 100 Native American tribes have warned that the four-state pipeline would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their drinking water. However, Energy Transfer, the company behind the $3.8 billion project, has firmly refused to stop or reroute it.
The 1,100-mile (1,770-km) pipeline would be the first to transport crude oil from Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, to refineries in the US Gulf Coast.