A former U.S. Army Ranger and Occupy Oakland protester was in intensive care on Friday after a veterans group said he was beaten by police during clashes with demonstrators this week.
The veteran, identified as Kayvan Sabeghi, was the second former American serviceman during the past two weeks to be badly hurt in confrontations between anti-Wall Street protesters and police in Oakland.
The group Iraq Veterans Against the War said Sabeghi was detained during disturbances that erupted late on Wednesday in downtown Oakland and was charged with resisting arrest and remaining present at the place of a riot.
Highland General Hospital confirmed that Sabeghi was a patient in the intensive care unit there.
Brian Kelly, who co-owns a brew pub with Sabeghi, said his business partner served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Sabeghi told him he was arrested and beaten by a group of policemen as he was leaving the protest to go home.
“He told me he was in the hospital with a lacerated spleen and that the cops had jumped him,” Kelly said. “They put him in jail, and he told them he was injured, and they denied him medical treatment for about 18 hours.”
The Guardian reports:
Kayvan Sabehgi, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in intensive care with a lacerated spleen. He says he was beaten by police close to the Occupy Oakland camp, but despite suffering agonising pain, did not reach hospital until 18 hours later.
Sabehgi told the Guardian from hospital he was walking alone along 14th Street in central Oakland – away from the main area of clashes – when he was injured.
“There was a group of police in front of me,” he told the Guardian from his hospital bed. “They told me to move, but I was like: ‘Move to where?’ There was nowhere to move.
“Then they lined up in front of me. I was talking to one of them, saying ‘Why are you doing this?’ when one moved forward and hit me in my arm and legs and back with his baton. Then three or four cops tackled me and arrested me.”
Sabeghi … said he was handcuffed and placed in a police van for three hours before being taken to jail. By the time he got there he was in “unbelievable pain”.
Sabehgi was due to undergo surgery on Friday afternoon to repair his spleen, which would involve using a clot or patch to prevent internal bleeding.
Some protesters had set fire to a hastily assembled barrier at the corner of 16th Street and Telegraph, in a bid to prevent access to the occupied building, but police drove demonstrators away from 16th Street using tear gas, flashbang grenades, and non-lethal rounds.
Sabehgi said he had not been in the occupied building, and was walking away from the main area of trouble when he was injured.
He said he had his arms folded and was “totally peaceful” before being arrested.
Local San Francisco ABC affiliate KOFY Newsinterviewed Sabehgi’s sister tonight, who said thatSabehgi lived near Frank Ogawa Plaza (the center of the Occupy protests), and was walking home Wednesday night away from violence when police stopped him. Sabehgi said that police ordered him to walk in another direction, and he simply asked “why?”
In response, according to Sabehgi’s sister, the police beat him mercilessly with batons.
Sabehgi was then kept in a holding cell for 18 hours. Despite begging to see a doctor, Sabehgi was refused medical assistance. Instead, according to Sabehgi, his jailors accused Sabehgi without any cause of being a heroin addict and alcoholic and – instead of providing medical help for his severe injuries – told him to stop taking heroin.
There is apparently a videotape of the incident (KOFY noted that “police are reviewing video of the incident”).
Given the outcry over the unprovoked injury of Marine veteran Scott Olsen – which has caused veterans from all over the country to come out to support the protesters – Sabehgi’s treatment by the police could generate even more support for the protests .