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Mon Feb 11, 2019, 11:12 AM

Why a Town Is Finally Honoring a Black Veteran Attacked by Its White Police Chief


It was a racial assault so vicious that it became one of the early chords of the civil rights movement, and led to the desegregation of the military.

Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr., 26, was a decorated African-American veteran. He had just been honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1946 and was headed home to Winnsboro, S.C. Still in uniform, Mr. Woodard, was forcibly removed from the bus, brutally beaten and jailed by the white police chief in the town of Batesburg.

But in the small town where Mr. Woodard was beaten so severely that he lost his sight, the crime went unpunished and largely faded from memory. Almost three generations later, a black Army veteran in Georgia and a white federal judge in South Carolina separately stumbled upon Mr. Woodard’s story and vowed to honor his memory.

Mr. Woodard enlisted in the Army in 1942, serving as a longshoreman in the Pacific Theater of World War II. After he was discharged, he left from Camp Gordon in Augusta, Ga. Mr. Woodard and the bus driver argued after Mr. Woodard asked to take a bathroom break. The bus company’s policy required drivers to accommodate such requests. The driver later said Mr. Woodard had been drunk and unruly.

The police chief, Lynwood Shull, and another officer ordered Mr. Woodard off the bus. He was beaten at various points while in police custody, despite protesting that he had done nothing to warrant the assault. Chief Shull jammed the ends of his blackjack into Mr. Woodard’s eyes, at one point striking him so violently that the stick broke.

News of the blinding of a World World II veteran traveled beyond the South, much of it carried by the black press. President Harry Truman was sickened by the assault and ordered a federal investigation. It was a highly unusual move at the time: investigating a white law enforcement officer for violating a black person’s civil rights.

At the trial, Chief Shull said he acted in self-defense and had only struck Mr. Woodard once. Medical records never shown in court disproved Chief Shull’s claim. It took 28 minutes for an all-white jury to acquit the police chief.

The judge who presided over the trial, J. Waties Waring, was deeply angered by the verdict, later issuing several decisions that helped upend Jim Crow laws.


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Reply Why a Town Is Finally Honoring a Black Veteran Attacked by Its White Police Chief (Original post)
CatWoman Feb 11 OP
lindysalsagal Feb 11 #1

Response to CatWoman (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2019, 12:11 PM

1. Someone with access: why now? Is it "me, too?"

What happened in 2018 to get this re-started?

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