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  • Friday, December 09, 2005


    Remembering Woody

    This was a shocking case in this area. I didn't know Woody but I probably would have encountered him in my social circles eventually if this hadn't happened. The following is from a local free paper called The Valley Advocate. [Bracketed] items are my additions and clarifications.
    December 2 marks the four-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Robert "Woody" Woodward by Brattleboro [Vermont] police. Woodward, an environmentalist with many friends in the local activist community, entered a [Unitarian] church during a Sunday morning service and asked for asylum (exactly from whom remains unclear). Police arrived on the scene. Though many witnesses insist that Woodward posed no danger to the congregation, police opened fire and hit Woodward seven times. [There is evidence that some of the shots may have hit him after he had fallen and was prone on the floor.]

    According to eyewitness accounts, a medical doctor on the scene begged police to allow her to tend to Woodward, who was lying handcuffed in a pool of his own blood, but she was repeatedly rebuffed. Woodward died in a New Hampshire hospital about three hours after the shooting.

    The officers who took Woody's life were exonerated of any wrongdoing. [Then Gov. Howard Dean signed off on the non-independent investigation clearing the officers.] There have been no official apologies made for the shooting, no grand jury has even been convened and efforts to bring the case to civil trial have not yet been successful. A citizens' group, "Justice for Woody" (, continues its call for justice as well as an end to the excessive use of force and other abuses by American law enforcement.
    I can't begin to go into the details of this case. Note that this happened almost three months after 9/11/2001. It's quite probable Woody's death was directly related to the heightened security atmosphere of the time. I seem to recall that two of the officers who shot Woody had been pulling down a lot of overtime guarding the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant in the months preceeding the shooting.

    It's very sad.

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