September 3rd, 2009
09:24 PM ET
14 years ago

Man says he lost part of finger in fight at health-care rally

(CNN) - A man says part of one finger was bitten off in a confrontation that developed at a health-care rally Wednesday night in southern California.

William Rice, 65, told CNN in a telephone interview he was in Thousand Oaks, California, standing on a sidewalk across the street from a rally sponsored by the group MoveOn.Org, which supports health-care reform. Rice said an unidentified man came "running at me" yelling, "You're an idiot. You're an idiot."

A spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office told CNN Rice was a counter-demonstrator and that he and another man got into a fistfight.

Rice would not divulge to CNN his views on the proposed health-care reforms.

Rice, who would not say why he was at the location, said he did not do anything to prompt the incident and did not know the other man.

Rice said he hit the other man on the nose when he came at him. "Had I not hit him he would have hit me," Rice said, adding that his left hand ended up in the other man's mouth during the incident, and the top part of his left pinky finger was bitten off.

Authorities were looking for the other man Thursday. They said they had heard various accounts of what happened and wanted to get his side of events.

A spokeswoman for Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks said Rice arrived at the hospital with the severed part of his finger wrapped in ice. Spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman said hospital personnel told Rice they could re-attach the severed part and what that process would involve, and that he elected not to have it re-attached.

She said Rice departed the hospital leaving behind the severed portion of the finger, and the hospital disposed of it.

A statement from the MoveOn.Org organization Thursday said, "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."

Filed under: Extra • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Proud American

    Just another sick God loving and fearing Republican. No news here.

    September 4, 2009 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  2. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    This is so wrong on so many levels, and now this is getting out of control.

    Looks like some needs anger management, and NOW!

    There needs to be discussion and debate, but this is waay over the top.

    If anyone did this to me, they would be arrested and charged with mayhem and assualt. After tasting the pepper spray or my stun gun.

    September 4, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  3. Swimm

    CNN left out the ironic part of the story – that the government health care protester was covered by Medicare.

    September 4, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  4. Wake Up

    Obama's minions and marxists are thugs, and want a dictatorship. When will the Obamabots wake up?, Soros, Pelosi, Reid and Obama are marxist dictators.

    September 4, 2009 12:40 am at 12:40 am |

    Did that man use his government run Medicare? Sounds like a douche bag to me.

    September 4, 2009 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  6. ender

    I think everyone needs to calm down.

    September 4, 2009 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  7. Oh sure

    Hmm. So some guy bites his finger off and just disappears. The other protestors let him leave too.

    Sounds a lot like the girl who had a letter carved in her face by an "unidentified black man" and it turned out to be a total lie.

    You heardit here first. I'm predicting they never find the guy.

    September 4, 2009 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  8. nea

    The Republicans keep saying the country dont want healthcare reform yeah! the only ones that say they dont are those that believe everything that the Republicans says. I still have the same question at these town halls why are the only one i see that oppose health care reform are the older whites senoirs where are the blacks senoirs that oppose it?

    September 4, 2009 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  9. Bridgette

    Now that is just crazy. I hope he has insurance. We are really making ourselves look stupid as a country. Can't we sit down and jut have a simple discussion. Can't we agree to disagree and move on.

    September 4, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  10. dfou

    sounds like he admits to striking first, must be how his finger got in the other guy's mouth. Hope he has health insurance.

    September 4, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  11. nvl

    What juvenile behavior at 65! Men never grow up, do they? We need more female leaders to get real reforms.

    September 4, 2009 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  12. Robert

    The interview of the "victim" on Fox was enlightening. 1) The guy who lost his finger punched the other man twice. On the second punch, the "victim" got his finger bit off because IT WAS IN THE MAN'S MOUTH because of the punch. This fact was completely lost on Fox's Cavuto. 2) The "victim" admitted he wasn't actually against health care reform but he wanted to protest because he doesn't like the government. I.E. he can't stand the fact that a black man is President, so he went to disrupt a pro-health care rally. 3) The guy didn't get his finger re-attached because HE DIDN'T HAVE A HEALTH CARE PLAN THAT WOULD COVER IT! How ironic! Maybe if he could have gotten over his own bigotry, health care reform could have been passed and he might have still had all his fingers (which he lost because he was assaulting someone in favor of health care reform). Karma is a funny thing.

    September 4, 2009 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. MikeH

    The guy who lost a finger is against government-run health care, and he's on Medicare, so his finger "problem" will be taken care of by the government.

    18000 Americans put to death last year by the Conservatives for Patients Rights Death Panels and their Republican sycophants. How many will they put to death this year?

    Conservative for Patients Rights -You have the right to stand before their real Death Panel, paid for and operated by the Health Insurance Industry,

    September 4, 2009 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  14. Wake Up

    Where is Pelosi calling these people "mobs" and "unamerican". Is this bottom yet of this debate? Ugh. This is the reason, why large federal govt. programs don't size does NOT fit all on most issues. Leave it to the states and localities. Obama...go away.

    September 4, 2009 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  15. Chitral Cheetah

    This hilarious! What are we coming to ? We cannot sit at a table and discuss and negotiate. The rabid talkshow host with their vitriolic message play the pied piper to these 'I hate Obama come what may' crowd. Boy, and do the follow. They need to respect the presidency at the very least.. I wish him the best. Go Obama!

    September 4, 2009 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  16. mary stewart,arlington texas

    have we just gone mad???do you really think thomas jefferson and our dec of independence signers ever imagined behavior like what is going on at the town hall meeting????my god...all this because they lost the election fair and very sad.....sean hannity would say what A great american to the biter

    September 4, 2009 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  17. clifford in New York

    Some day CNN will grow up and be just like Fox news with triple the audience!

    September 4, 2009 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
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