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Healthcare reform activist bites off fingertip of 65-year-old man, authorities say [Updated]

Authorities today are searching for a healthcare reform activist who they said bit off the fingertip of a 65-year-old man during a fight at a MoveOn.org rally in Thousand Oaks. 

[Updated at 5:16 p.m.: A previous version of this post reported that the activist had bitten off the finger of a counter-demonstrator. Authorities now say that only the tip of the man's finger was bitten off, and that the 65-year-old victim told them he was not demonstrating at the time of the fight.]

“It all started with their difference in philosophy over healthcare reform,” said Senior Deputy Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday at a “We Can’t Afford to Wait Vigil” organized by affiliates of the activist group MoveOn.org, which drew supporters of President Obama’s healthcare plan, Buschow said. The rally also attracted several counter-protesters, he said. 

[Updated at 5 p.m.: During the rally at Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive, near the Oaks Mall, the suspect and William James Rice got into a heated argument and began fighting, Buschow said. Rice, of Newbury Park, punched the suspect after the man called him an "idiot," Buschow said.

At that point, one man bit off the the tip of Rice's left pinkie finger, Buschow said.

Rice then drove himself to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, about a mile away, Buschow said.  A witness picked up the detached fingertip after the suspect spit it out and drove it to the hospital. Buschow said doctors told the victim that they could not reattach the fingertip because of the high risk of infection.]

Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org, called the incident “a regrettable act of violence” in a statement released this morning.

“While we do not have any more facts about what happened than what we saw in press accounts, MoveOn condemns violence in all forms,” Hogue said. “We support the Ventura County sheriff’s investigation into the situation. It is in our firm hope that this event does not detract from the tens of thousands who were out peacefully making their voices heard for health care reform and a public option.”

Authorities said they are looking for a white male in his late 40s or 50s who was last seen wearing black shorts and a black shirt. 

“We’re still trying to figure out who was the aggressor,” Buschow said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department at (805) 494-8201.

—Ruben Vives

Comments () | Archives (454)

Brilliant, jt. In your twisted world, I suppose it includes pointing pinkies. How many have you bitten off?

Good thing the old guy had health insurance to cover his injuries (alongside 85% of Americans which bumps up to 90% when you count 18-25 year olds who don't want it-- like I once was-- and another 5% who are older and simply choose not to pay for it and rather pay for their new flat screen or some other inane purchase-- so for the other 5% who would benefit from tort reform, we duke it out because our government wants to get their grubby little paws into the lucrative health care arena), this whole Obama situation is just waiting to explode. Vote this joker out in 2012...

BTW-- I thought all you MoveOn.org trolls were vegetarians, why eat fingers? I guess he was probably getting the munchies...

You know if it was the Anti Obama activist that did the biting, that would have been your Headline Ruben! You make it vague enough just to imply otherwise!

Times, please confirm that post by anonymous down there, because it sure sounds like one-sided Tea Bagger testimony.

I'm having a little trouble imagining the scenario that anonymous is describing. Is that why he is, ahem, anonymous?

Go to http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ for a completely different story. This blogger says she was there and that the guy whose finger was bitten off threw the first punch.
The biter had crossed the street to confront him, and they got into an argument, then the bitee decked him. They scuffled, and the one guy bit the other guy's finger off. Not cool.

I wonder what would happen if this man contracted HIV from the man he bit? Who would pay for his medical costs?

I wonder if this will turn out as true as that McCain/Palin campaign worker who went all over the news spreading racist vicious lies that she had been attacked and savaged by a black Obama supporter who carved a backward B on her face... like you'd expect to see if someone had done said act to themselves while looking into a mirror... which as it turns out is exactly what little miss Fox-News-Darling-turned-exposed-attention-hungry-liar did. I wouldn't be shocked at some kind of self-mutilation tactic being used by health care reform opponents in order to tarnish and discredit the supporters' demonstrations. Quote this "Scott" all you want; I'm not interested unless you saw it first hand. Anyone can spread uncorroborated hearsay.

I like how you left out that the anti-reform man punched the man in the face and knocked him to the ground. That's how he lost his finger. A government run insurance program called Medi-care has re-attached his finger.

Liberal media my a$$.

“We’re still trying to figure out who was the aggressor,” Buschow said.

Let's see, who could the aggressor be? The guy who ran from the scene or the guy who's MISSING A FINGER?!!!!!

Deputy Buschow, here's a clue: unless the guy missing the finger stuck his pinky in the other guy's mouth and then forced his jaws closed, the one doing the biting is the aggressor.

"just shows how ignorant and how intolerant they really are as people.
Posted by: james"

Yes, James. Everybody points with their little finger. Don't you ?

What a clown.

((((maybe if people stopped pointing fingers at each other, one won't get bitten off!?))))

Yeah, jt. And maybe if you brainwashed hemp smoking zombies wouldn't burn the U.S. flag, you wouldn't get a nightstick in your ear. It's the same logic. Sound good, moonbeam?

The moral of this news story is: If you can't win the argument, then start biting.

What a freak.

The press was saying that Anti-Obooba heathcare protesters were comming to the protests armed, now you know why!
An armed protester is a polite protester.

Yet another act of violence instigated by Obama's speech in June:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

The liberals of the 60's also called our soldiers fighting communist terrorism in Viet Nam, baby killers.

Then in 1973, they legalized baby killing.

Now, they want to legal murdering their parents.

It will be far worse if the Democrat Party passes Universal Healthcare. Long waits, frustrations, more fights.

More proof that the left wing nuts are the neanderthal bigots of the 21st century... and where is the outrage from the so called 'intellectual' leaders in public office and the media who would attempt to capitalize on this if the finger was in the other mouth?

Typical lib reaction, and also the reaction of little children on a playground. If you can't argue facts, reason, or common sense, then resort to name-calling and violence. It's amazing that so many people in this country subsist at the liberal level of pure ignorance.

Rumor has it the guy is not being considered for an Obama Zar position on staff. Obama is rumored to have uttered that he needed someone who nobody would point fingers at.

I hope the people who elected Obama are proud of the country he is creating (as opposed to the one he is tearing apart).

Good work!

People, this is what we are up against—a bunch of animals, Marxists, haters. They do not have America at heart. If you happen to be a Democrat, beware of who is taking control of your party. You may not have much in common with them. Republicans are getting pretty close to having to reckon with this in their own party. George Washington: "The love of party will be the downfall of this nation". We'd better start shunning the freakshow and start reconnecting with the serious people who are REALLY looking for good and for peace in this nation. The minority of hate-filled crazies are the loud ones being heard and placed in offices at the moment. Clean slate.

@james - who "wags" their *pinkie* finger at anyone? For that matter... even if fighting breaks out... what kind of animal bites off a finger?

The post by anonymous dated 9/3 10:51 am is a cut and paste that is exactly the same on half a news sites or blogs that I've seen this morning.

Where was PETA?

James wrote: "20 bucks says the victim was wagging his finger in front of the guy and was warned to stop several times. i bet he deserved it."

You sir, are mentally ill. Get some help.

“We’re still trying to figure out who was the aggressor.”

An alleged eyewitness who actually found the severed finger and located the hospital where the amputee went, related on radio that the Health Care advocate charged across the street to confront the elderly gentleman then got directly in his face hurling insults. A struggle ensued at which point the elderly gentleman was bitten by the pro-Obama supporter.

I contend that a later aged person that was singled out as the possibly "weakest" link in the protest and attacked by a "compassionate and bipartisan" Obama supporter could be considered at fault because he disagrees with the President. Just like the other "Nazi" sympathizers and "Astroturf" loons on the Right, the 9 digit indivdual was dealt "justice" in a Progressive sense since dissent is evil while physical assault is the appropriate means to the ends to reign in ignorant, clueless Americans that like to think for themselves.

MoveOn.Org did apologize. Now if your organization would value Truth as much as Public Relations, that might mean something.

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