Filed under: Action, Announcement, Northeast, Repression
Early Monday morning, our friend and comrade, Sophia Wilansky was critically injured by a concussion grenade during an all-out assault on Water Protectors by Morton County police and DAPL mercenaries. Police and mercenaries unloaded tear gas, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and water cannons in below-freezing temperatures.
The grenade hit Sophia’s left arm, shattering her radial and ulnar artery as well as pieces of her arm bone. The muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were entirely obliterated. Sophia is currently undergoing multiple surgeries in attempt to rebuild her arm, but the fear of losing it remains day-by-day. As Sophia’s father Wayne Wilansky explained:
She will need multiple surgeries to try to gain some functional use of the arm and hand. She will be, every day for the foreseeable future, fearful of losing her arm and hand. There are no words to describe the pain of watching my daughter cry and say she was sorry for the pain she caused me and my wife. I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time. I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.
This was not an accident. Morton County police intentionally shot Sophia while she was handing out bottled water to fellow Water Protectors who were trying to remove trucks on the bridge to allow emergency services to enter the camp. Instead of taking responsibility for this unwarranted violence, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office attempted to falsely frame Sophia for the injury–stating that Water Protectors “[rigged] up their own explosives” which supposedly injured her.
Police also denied using concussion grenades on the crowd.
However, surgeons pulled shrapnel from Sophia’s wound and dozens of live streams from independent media along with eyewitness accounts prove militarized police unleashed their full fury upon Water Protectors. Sophia was not the lone survivor of this brutal violence. Among the most serious injuries were an elder who needed resuscitation on scene after a rubber bullet stopped their heart; a woman suffered an eye injury and vision loss from a rubber bullet; a man hit by a rubber bullet suffered internal bleeding resulting in him vomiting blood; and yet another rubber bullet injured a man’s spine, causing severe blunt force trauma and head lacerations.
This level of violence is nothing new in the so-called United States. For hundreds of years, the Indigenous people of this land have endured and resisted the colonial expansion of this white supremacist empire. This is not only an Indigenous struggle either: as the people of Standing Rock fight to protect their water, the people of Flint, Michigan to this day do not have access to clean water. Environmental issues and racism always intersect–Indigenous people and people of color are the first to feel the effects of environmental degradation weaponized by the state.
NYC Shut It Down and Hoods4Justice are calling for a vigil and solidarity action for Sophia and all the Water Protectors who experienced state violence on the morning of November 20th.
Where: Columbus Circle
When: Today, November 23rd @ 7pm
For this action we request people bring candles, signs, banners, and flags of resistance to show love and solidarity for Indigenous peoples and the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. This is a rally of both Love and Rage: Love for our people, and the Rage to fight for a better world.
Make no mistake about Sophia’s identity, politics, and experiences in this struggle for life. She gave her body in defense against the Spectra pipeline in New York. In August, she was part of the Black Lives Matter coalition that transformed City Hall Park into Abolition Square: a protest that led to the early resignation of former-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. Sophia has been a committed member of NYC Shut It Down, a Black liberation group that has consistently highlighted victims of police violence every week since the December 2014 unrest.
Sophia is an abolitionist; she is committed to vigilance and resistance in the struggle for queer, Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives. Many organizations like ours have been fighting for justice for years. Sophia, like many in our community, understands that resistance is necessary. At this rally, we ask that people wear black in solidarity with Sophia and the Water Protectors. We will not tolerate tone policing, shaming, or respectability politics in this space. We believe in solidarity through a diversity of tactics. During the protest, we ask that participants respect each others’ autonomy. We will have legal observers. Join us tonight in honor of Sophia and all Water Protectors who fight for our lives.
National Lawyers Guild arrest number: 212-679-6018