Friday 4 November 2011
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.