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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)

Check your facts, giff...The victim is over 65, and was treated under MEDICARE (aka Government Health Care)...ironic, no?

The issue we are facing is not liberal vs conservative. It is Progressives vs the rest of us. The progressives are the far left of the liberal (democratic) party and progressive does not mean progress the way they will try to tell you. Progressive means progressing towards marxism, towards fascism, towards communism. This is evident in the way Pelosi/Reid, and the CA Rep who praised even Fidel Castro have bullied and degraded anyone who opposes their views. Someone please ask the Democratic leadership (all progressives not just liberals) what happened to their mantra "Dissent is Patriotic"?

Oh you hear from a first hand account from "Scott" then post anonymous as your name and expect soeone to believe that crap. It figures for a hate filled anti-Obama led around by the nose republican.

GetItRightGiff ...

You are so brainwashed and addled from your tye dye t shirt fumes that you automatically assume that since the victim was 65 he was treated under Medicare. Wher on earth in this story do you find that. An enormous amount of people are actuallu self sustaining and pay for insurance themselves. At 65 and even later. It's shocking I know Mr. fact checker dude.

Response to James:

He said -
"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.

the anti-reformers do not know how to have a discussion about this topic. they have to get in your face anytime they are trying to make a point.

just shows how ignorant and how intolerant they really are as people. "

A man deserves to have his finger bitten off for disagreement? I don't care if Hitler is waving a finger in front of my face, I still wouldn't bite it off! Not to mention that this was an elderly fellow! By the way, you are assuming that this was done, and then you have the gall to call this man intolerant?

The "anti-reformers" as you call them, (I prefer to call them patriots), do indeed know how to have discussions. It is the progressives that respond to discussions with violence. This is not the only case. Need I remind you of the African American conservative who was attacked, unprovoked, by union thugs? This is going on all over the place.

It is the progressives, lead by those in political power who are actively intimidating, abusing, and in some extreme instances resorting to physical violence!

Enough trying to defend this thug who attacked an elderly gentleman! If you want to have open discussions, fine! But stop with the personal attacks, ok?

PS - You do realize that the Constitution is NOT a "living document," and you do know what socialism is, right? Come on, when Putin (a former KGB agent) warns the United States about it's destructive path down socialism, you'd think people would listen... nope...

I hope that he gave him the finger!

Tell me someone has a video! Oh please, oh please! We can't let these union thugs and ACORN soldiers get away with violence.

And to the poster that says the man deserved it, that just goes to show what barbarians you people are.

Read the bill for crying out loud! You don't even know what you are rallying for. You think we are just against reform, think again. We don't want this bill. Read it and you will understand why, then you can come to our rallies.

Grow up, do your homework before slinging insults and biting off appendages.

This messsage is for both sides of the issue. You have to look out for each other, no matter whom casts first stone, Do not let those in your assembly be singled out like the man was as posted above.
If this aggressor had be addressed by a UNIFIED assembly when he strolled in odds are he would have strolled back out.
If he chose to continue his aggression he could have easily been subdued by a UNIFIED assembly until authorities were engaged.
It is understood by all that there is a heightened sense of urgency and passion regarding these issues. The facist and socialist are battling for complete control of America and the Americans are fighting for their freedom and country. There will be unavoidable conflict, but this situation was avoidable.

"We're still trying to figure out who was the aggressor"
I'd say the guy with the finger in his mouth!!!!

I have to rate this story thumbs down.

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

I find his remark offhanded. Given the handiwork of the aggressor "Buschow" should have easily fingered the culprit. If the younger man was handled the situation properly, he would have hung around and handed over his testimony to the police. Instead of dialing the digits to the police, he made an underhanded escape after cutting off the conversation and handing out a fist full of suffering.

Seriously, the guy who bit off the finger is a hateful coward who committed a heinous attack on an old man. It does not take a genius to see that whatever the old man did, he did not deserve this.


Who knew... Mike Tyson was an ObamaCare supporter

And they have the nerve to call the right wingers "extremists? A liberal kook bit the finger off of an elderly man!!!! Talk about mental cases.


Yes very ironic, because he is over 65 there is not other real option other than MEDICARE because the last time the government established a government option, the others all went away... Exactly as Obamacare intends for this next step.

Sad because the poster seems to have no clue that part of the issue.

Let me get this straight... Democrats, liberals and those who support moveon.org have long been associated with protests movements. You know, the kind that throw things through windows, trash parked cars and especially in Oregon, will block bridge enterances at rush hour for more media coverage.
A man in his sixties, protesting from a distance has another get in his face and then take off his pinky finger and he gets mocked?
Now that the democrats are "organizing" their "mobs" for counter protests... I'm willing to bet the violence is just beginning. What else happens when you put two opposing sides together? Civil unrest. Is this the "change" you promised the country, Mr. President?

As a Thousand Oaks resident, I'm astounded.

First of all, this is a VERY conservative area (it's a short drive on the "Military Intelligence Memorial Freeway" to the Reagan Library). How Moveon found more Obamacare supporter than the anti-Obamacare crowd is beyond me.

Second. This place is SO mellow that it's a daily struggle to keep your eyes open. Where did they find people in Thousand Oaks that actually have that sort of passion?

Third. Where in the world did the finger-biter come from? Not T.O. I'm sure. Had to have driven up from the San Fernando Valley, or he's one of the "Dudes" from Malibu.

Accolades to "Scott" who found the old man's finger, got it to him, and then waited for police. Scot's obviously a local, and I'm glad to see that there was one sane person out there yesterday.

"James" below makes me laugh; so it was the victim's fault because he, you know, dared to used his finger against someone much more enlightened (and now bloody-mouthed) than him.

The arrogance astounds, but does not surprise.


I'm sure the old guy has health care and will pay for his finger to be re-attached.

Move on.Org wants everone who has a job to pay for it.

Move On.Org should pay....as well as a nice law suit.

Despicable - and unfortunately all-too-typical of the violent behavior of those who've been trained to expect they are "entitled" to be taken care at the expense of others.

Politicians who tell these violent children that they are willing to steal from others to keep these children re-electing them, should be dropped off in the Marxist country of their choice where they can thrive.

Isn't there anything in our Constitution to prevent this robbery? Whoever on the courts chose to look the other way and allow this behavior obviously did not anticipate that the end result of their 'kindness' would result in this type of violence or worse.

Reading the response from James just makes me sick! This is a heated topic and tempers flare. NO ONE has the right to bite off the finger of another!!! Let's just hope that this poor fingerless man is employed by Whole Foods, so he can make use of his medical insurance. That reminds me, I'm out of organic humus, so I better head to Whole Foods now that those hippies aren't clogging up the aisles.

Can I have the finger? I would like to put it in some chili at Wendy's

Good thing Obama care hasn't passed. At 65 some government panel may have decided that reattaching a finger to someone at the retirement age wouldn't be covered.

"... i bet he deserved it."

What a bunch of hateful, violent, Obamatrons. If you disagree with what someone says... well, they deserve to be mutilated. You Obamatrons are SICK people.

This imbecile who bite off this other man's finger should definitely be arrested for his violent act. It is clear to me why this perpetrator is for obama's health reform because he obviously is too stupid to find a job for himself and gain health insurance that way. Maybe there's a reason why health care should be offered to those who can afford it. It's sort of like Social Darwinism. People who can afford it are more fit to survive and thus live longer. Idiots like the man who bites off people's fingers, can die an early death if all I care. It'll make the world and the US a safer place for our fingers.

And the administration and the DHS continue to claim the right wing groups are the crazies? Are you kidding me?

Was the Old Dude INSURED?

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