Vanessa Dundon’s retina was severed in her right eye after law enforcement shot a tear gas canister at her face
A witness claims that an officer pointed Dundon out before another officer fired the canister
Dundon has been at Standing Rock since September 11 and has had no arrests or injuries up to this point
Dundon is a first responder for the frontline
On Sunday, November 20, water protectors in Standing Rock faced an onslaught of attacks led by Morton County Sheriff’s Department. The aftermath resulted in nearly 200 injured, one elder that went into cardiac arrest, and a 21-year-old woman who may lose her arm.
Sophia Wilansky became known around the world after a concussion grenade discharged by law enforcement blew up on her arm. Wilansky now faces the possibility of losing her arm, as she goes through over a dozen surgeries in an attempt to avoid amputation. A Go Fund Me was set up for Wilansky that raised over $350,000 to help with medical bills.
Wilansky was not the only person that received a life-changing injury Sunday night. Vanessa Dundon was on the Blackwater Bridge that night as well, where she was shot in the eye with a tear gas canister, then shot in the back with a rubber bullet as she tried to run away.
Dundon, better known as “Sioux Z,” has been at Standing Rock since September 11. She works on the frontline as first respond rescue. If someone gets injured on the frontline, Dundon will run in and get that person to safety. But being a first responder is not her only responsibility. Dundon also removes people that shouldn’t be on the frontline, either because they are acting as an agitator towards police, or for their personal safety.
Dundon was at the bridge when the water protectors were attempting to remove the two burnt trucks that police have been using as a makeshift barricade. As the trucks were being removed from the bridge, police opened fire on the water protectors.
Officers point Dundon out
It was during this attack that Dundon heard a cry for help. A female member of the media that Dundon had not seen before needed to get off the bridge. Dundon went to get the woman off the bridge, and that is when she claims an officer fired a tear gas canister directly at her. The canister hit her in her right eye.
After being hit with the tear gas canister, Dundon grabbed the bandana off of her head to put over her eye. She turned to run off the bridge, and that is when she was shot in the back with a rubber bullet, at which point she fell to the ground. Dundon said after that, two other first responders had to pick her up and carry her off the bridge.
A witness claims that an officer pointed directly at Dundon before another officer fired the canister. Water protectors have claimed that it is common for officers to point out specific people in the crowd before firing rubber bullets into the crowd.
The severity of the injury
An ambulance took Dundon to the hospital. What followed was an unexpected onslaught of hospitals. Finally, Dundon was told that her retina had been severed in her right eye. She received stitches above her right eye and was told she needed to see a retinal specialist.
Today Dundon is on her way to Minneapolis to see a retinal specialist. TDH sat and spoke with Dundon, and she said she had not realized how serious the injury was. When we spoke with her, she could not see out of her right eye at all, but doctors had been “sugar-coating” the seriousness of the injury.
The last doctor that Dundon saw was brutally honest with her. He told her that there is a very real chance that she will never be able to see out of her right eye again. If the specialist is not able to reattach her retina, then she will never see out of her eye again. Even if the doctor does reattach her retina, her vision in her right eye will most likely be impaired for the rest of her life.
Dundon told TDH that not only was she hit in the eye with a tear gas canister but that the officer that fired it did not fire it up in the air. Instead, he fired it directly at her.
The October raid on North Camp
Dundon finds that to be one of the most disturbing parts. She has been on the frontline with these same officers day after day for months. They know who she is and she knows who they are. Dundon told TDH that she could not understand why they would do that to her because she has never done anything to them.
Dundon was also one of the many people that lost all of their possessions when law enforcement performed a raid in October that resulted in at least 141 arrests at the “North Camp.”
After the raid, people were not allowed to go back up Highway 1806 to retrieve their possessions. Dozens of people had reported when law enforcement finally did give back the possessions; they were reportedly dumped in one area, damaged, and soaked in what appeared to be urine, and ammonia.
How you can help
Dundon has started a Go Fund Me to help her with medical bills. As of now, the campaign has raised only $555 out of a $10,000 goal. If you would like to contribute to help Dundon, you can do so by clicking here.
Dundon is one of many that were injured at Standing Rock Sunday night. Unfortunately, Dundon and Wilansky appear to have suffered the worst injuries out of everyone. Both women have had their lives changed due to the disgusting actions of Morton County Sheriff’s Department, and other law enforcement agencies that have joined them.