POLITICS
10/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Finger Bitten Off In Fight At Health Care Rally

A 65-year-old man's finger was bitten off at a health care rally Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks, California. KTLA reports that the man was part of an anti-reform crowd:

About 100 protesters sponsored by MoveOn.org were having a rally supporting health care reform. A group of anti-health care reform protesters formed across the street.

A witness from the scene says a man was walking through the anti-reform group to get to the pro-reform side when he got into an altercation with the 65-year-old, who opposes health care reform.

The injured anti-reform man walked to Los Robles hospital to have the finger reattached.

He had Medicare.

A blogger who witnessed the fight from the pro-reform side says that the finger-biter was provoked:

The man in the orange shirt hit the pro-reform guy (I'm going to call him PR Guy just to keep the players straight). Hard. ... He punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground and into that thruway. ... He got up, tried to get back up on the curb, but Orange Shirt guy was in his face. Finger in his face, PR Guy standing, steps up to the curb, and there's a scuffle. Orange shirt seemed to have PR Guy in a hold, but again, I was across the street, so won't state that as absolute fact. Next thing I see is PR Guy's hat being tossed into the street, both yelling at one another, then Orange shirt walks away, PR Guy picks up hat and crosses to our side.

When he gets to our side, he tells a story in one sentence: "He punched me hard, straight in the face, so I bit his finger off."

MoveOn.org released a statement in response:

"Yesterday, MoveOn held over 350 peaceful candlelight vigils nationwide, in which tens of thousands of people participated in, to call for immediate action on health care reform including a strong public option.


"We have seen press reports that indicate at one event in Southern California a regrettable act of violence happened. While we do not have any more facts about what happened then what we saw in press accounts, MoveOn condemns violence in all forms. We have seen passions run high on both sides all summer in the health care debate, and we strongly believe that this nation deserves an honest, peaceful and respectful debate about health care reform."

"While we don't know if either party involved was a MoveOn member, we regret any violence that may have occurred yesterday, and we support the Ventura County Sheriff's investigation into the situation. It is 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."

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