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Occupy Oakland: second Iraq war veteran injured after police clashes
by Adam Gabbatt, Guardian (UK)
Friday Nov 4th, 2011 8:35 PM
Kayvan Sabehgi in intensive care with a lacerated spleen after protests in Oakland, a week after Scott Olsen was hurt. He says police beat him with batons
Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP
A second Iraq war veteran has suffered serious injuries after clashes between police and Occupy movement protesters in Oakland.

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, 32, is the second Iraq war veteran to be hospitalised following involvement in Oakland protests. Another protester, Scott Olsen, suffered a fractured skull on 25 October.

On Wednesday night, police used teargas and non-lethal projectiles to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland.

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, who left the army in 2007 and now part-owns a small bar-restaurant in El Cerrito, about 10 miles north of Oakland, 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".

He said: "My stomach was really hurting, and it got worse to the point where I couldn't stand up.

"I was on my hands and knees and crawled over the cell door to call for help."

A nurse was called and recommended Sabehgi take a suppository, but he said he "didn't want to take it".

He was allowed to "crawl" to another cell to use the toilet, but said it was clogged.

"I was vomiting and had diarrhoea," Sabehgi said. "I just lay there in pain for hours."

Sabehgi's bail was posted in the mid-afternoon, but he said he was unable to leave his cell because of the pain. The cell door was closed, and he remained on the floor until 6pm, when an ambulance was called.

He was taken to Highland hospital – the same hospital where Olsen was originally taken after being hit in the head by a projectile apparently fired by police.

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.

Thousands of protesters had attended the action in Oakland on Wednesday, taking over the downtown area of the city and blockading Oakland's port.

As demonstrations continued near the camp base at Frank H Ogawa plaza during the evening, a group of protesters occupied a disused building on 16th Street at around 10.30pm, with some climbing up onto the roof.

There had been little police presence during the day, but more than 200 officers arrived after 11pm. 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.

A spokeswoman for Highland hospital confirmed Sabehgi had been admitted. Oakland police were not immediately available for comment
I was in a holding cell at one point with Kayvan within the first couple of hours of being arrested. He among others had shown the injuries he had received from the police to the other occupiers. At that point it had looked like they had just beat him pretty bad. After we had all been moved around from cell to cell, we heard a lot of yelling coming from one of the cells right down the hall. He was screaming for medical attention and got nothing but chastised and yelled at by the guards. Though none of us in the cell were trained paramedics, physicians, or anything of the sort, common sense left us concerned for his well being. He was level headed and handled himself well when he came into the first cell, barely even complaining about the pain from the beating. It should have been obvious when he was screaming out in pain, unable to walk, after having defecated and vomited in the cell that something was amiss. A young man in our cell said it reminded him of severe issues he had had with his organs in the past, so we all became worried that he had internal bleeding or a ruptured organ of some sort. As many of us in the cell yelled that he needed medical attention and that the condition he was in could be life threatening from what we feared was happening, we simply were yelled at and threatened with lock down. One of the guards came to tell him at one point that he could be released on bail that had been posted if he would stand up and walk out. When he tried to crawl out of the cell the guard blocked him and slammed the door shut in his face and walked away. One guard came to the cell saying that he did his job the same way every day and wasn't going to do any different and justified it by pointing out that a nurse had looked at a few peoples' hands briefly after we had sat hours with some cuffs that were over-tightened. I did not see him taken out, but I am glad, despite the guards hindering the process, that Kayvan was finally able to get the medical attention he needed. They way they treated him was absolutely sickening, and nobody deserves to be treated that way.