On December 2, 2001, Woody suffered a terrible injustice. We, the friends of Woody seek justice. We seek justice under the law so that those responsible will be held accountable. And we seek justice in the telling of the truth about the life and work of Woody, who touched so many with his kindness.
Fatal Police Shooting Shocks Church
Was Woody Assassinated?
1) Robert “Woody” Woodward ~ Fatal Police Shooting
For the past few weeks, my work for a sustainable energy development and family-related health matters, brought me to southern California. One of the highlights of this trip was in spending real time with Carol Rosin and Jon Cypher at their home and offices for the Institute for Cooperation in Space in Ventura, CA. I met them after a solo walk by the ocean where I watched three pilot whales weave in the Pacific only about 30 yards from shore. Nature reigns in such beauty.
Though funding for the sustainable energy work was missing, it was a good trip, especially to help my mom her during a time when she needed me. And on the airplane on the ride home, after nine months of slowly reading, absorbing, feeling, the revelations in the biography of Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas, written in the 1930’s by Mari Sandoz.
Shaken a bit, which I didn’t realize how little, until on the way at Whole Foods market, I learned what happened to my friend, Woody, just before I departed my journey. on December 2nd, 2001, my friend, Robert “Woody” Woodward, was shot dead by police while seeking political asylum in a Church in Brattleboro, Vermont!
I couldn’t help feel but some connection with Woody; and his connection with Crazy Horse, who when arrested and betrayed, struggled with a knife and slain dead.
I attended the memorial service, with a candlelight vigil through town, Brattleboro, Vermont, on December 19 2001. The assembly of friends and community that came to that service demonstrated that Woody was not a dangerous person, and people grieved at their loss of a dear friend and family loved one. But will the truth be revealed, what really happened?
Why would the police,
after only one minute,
open fire, shooting him
seven times, handcuff him,
and deny him immediate
I had an opportunity to address those at the memorial service. I encouraged anyone who could disclose truth on this case to step forward, to take the advice from Daniel Sheehan, legal counsel for the Pentagon Papers, the Iran-Contra, Three Mile Island, and Karen Silkwood cases: to go public as the best strategy and defense to stand up against injustice. I shared these thoughts, and the following poem to a light beyond darkness.
The unknown journey tells us of lives past,
What’s behind the sky and how long we can last.
Blight and perish, then return Creation to your chore never ending,
Though it appears dim sometimes because the tunnel winds,
But beyond the next bend the illumined mind might find a permeating ray.
O’ divine mystery, naked before my thoughts,
Such grandeur and majesty, am I truly worthy?
Embracing life, colors blend, light filters through,
I am what I am.
The only death that came to be was to that of mystery,
As life has a way of renewing and cleansing,
And with the purpose of growth, the spirit will always be unending.
1) Fatal Police Shooting Shocks Church – Was Woody Assassinated?
– – Archive Links at end of article!
Fatal Police Shooting Shocks Church
By DAVID GRAM, Associated Press Writer
December 5, 2001
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) – He went before the congregation just as the service was to begin. Weeping, he asked for help, for “political sanctuary.”
But All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church – which has long welcomed the downtrodden and the mentally ill – couldn’t offer sanctuary to Robert A. Woodward on Sunday.
Gently asked to take a seat or leave, Woodward pulled a knife. Police were called. After making what authorities called threatening moves with the blade, he was gunned down at the altar and died at a hospital.
The police shooting in a church known for its peace activism left the congregation in shock. And it left many of the roughly 10,000 residents of a community known for its left-leaning politics, where a faded “Question Authority” bumper sticker is not an uncommon sight, doing just that. People wanted to know why the officers fired seven shots with their semiautomatic pistols rather than just one, or why they didn’t subdue Woodward with the pepper spray they carry, or just tackle him.
“It appears as though there will have to be a high burden on those who pulled the trigger to show that there were no other means to deal with this situation,” said Benson D. Scotch, director of the Vermont office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
State authorities are investigating the shooting to determine whether it was justified.
It remained a mystery why the 37-year-old man would drive 25 miles from his apartment in Bellows Falls to seek help in a church hidden from the road on a pine-topped knoll – a church where he was a complete stranger.
Woodward’s mother, Joanne Woodward of Bozrah, Conn., told the Brattleboro Reformer that her son had no history of mental problems. And investigators said it appeared he did not have a criminal record.
Woodward, who was single and had no children, worked most recently with foster children at a community mental health organization in Vermont, his mother said.
“I would just like to stress for you that he was a very peaceful person,” she said. “He never would have injured anyone else. He was a loving, caring person and very gentle.”
The West Village Meeting House, a 1970s chalet-style building with brown-stained shingles, is home to both the Unitarian Universalist church and to a Jewish congregation.
Investigators said it was clear when Woodward went into the church that he wanted to be heard. The chief source of the agitation that led to Woodward’s shooting appeared to be that members of the congregation were getting up to leave.
Woodward handed out blank checks with statements written on the backs of them, State’s Attorney Dan Davis said. Davis would not reveal their contents.
As Woodward grew more agitated, someone announced it was time for Sunday school, and the 15 children among the roughly 70 people in the church were escorted out to the parking lot. A congregation member used a cell phone to call police.
A church member began talking with Woodward and placed some cellular phone calls for him. Woodward put his knife away. But when someone suggested that the 15 or 20 members of the congregation who remained leave, Woodward grew angry and pulled out his knife again. Davis said it was a folding knife, with a blade 4 to 5 inches long.
“There was a movement with the knife itself and movements made by Mr. Woodward that the officers perceived as a threat to themselves and-or the congregation,” Davis said on Monday.
Two officers opened fire; a third officer did not shoot.
Norman Hunt, an 85-year-old member of the congregation, said that Woodward did not verbally threaten anyone other than himself.
“He did tell us he was afraid of the police and afraid if they caught him they’d kill him,” Hunt said. “He held a small pocketknife and held it against his right eye and said that rather than being captured he’d kill himself.”
For another posting of this article and others, see:
Woodward shouted about “political assassinations” and “global warming”
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From the original website for “Justice for Woody”
Was Woody Assassinated?
Woody seemed to think so. On the voicemail message from the call that Woody placed to his close friends one can hear
Woody’s voice saying “Political assassination, political assassination, political assassination … global warming,” repeatedly, and “I love you, I love you: help, help, help me, help me” between moans in which one can hear immense agony.
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Flyby News Archives Updated Links:
August 14, 2006 – Item 2
Justice for Woody?
This above issue includes an article on Robert Woodward’s family settlement to drop the case of my friend, Woody, who was shot dead less than 2 months following 9/11/01, while seeking political asylum in a Church one minute after police entered the Church and riddled him with seven bullets and denied emergency medical attention.
September 1, 2005 – Item 2
Justice for Woody and family within a year?
August 27, 2005 – Item 3
Justice for Woody Remains Open
August 19, 2005 – Item 5
Robert Woodward’s family seeks justice
May 10, 2004 – Item 3
Woody Case Hearing Report
May 1, 2004 – Item 3
Dangerous Time for Justice in “Woody” Police-Shooting Case
December 8, 2003 – Item 4
Woodward Shooting: Evidence of a Dean Conspiracy?
One-Year Anniversary Since the Shooting — December 2, 2002 – Item 1
Justice eyes Woodward FBI probe
March 20, 2002 – Item 3
The sound of silence
Article by Kathryn Casa, Managing Editor of the Brattleboro Reformer (March 13, 2002)
February 3, 2002 – Item 4
Family Pursues Quest for Truth in Woodward Shooting
Press Release and link for the legal motion
December 29, 2001 – Item 3
Deadly Silence, Questions Remain about Church Shooting of Woody
Why are the policemen who shot Woody still on duty?
Robert “Woody” Woodward was gunned down by Police Officers on December 2, 2001
in the All Soul’s Unitarian Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, while requesting political asylum.
Woody committed no crime, yet he was shot seven times, and medical care, which might have saved Woody’s life, was delayed. For the second anniversary of the tragic events, a group of friends of Woody and concerned citizens conducted a Silent March to call for the end of excessive use of police force, support truth, justice, and accountability for such actions, and most of all, the event will pay tribute to Woody’s life of compassion and social caring. At a press conference after the vigil, a spokesperson for the Justice for Woody organaization released a report that concluded: “..By refusing to pursue the evidence they possessed that Woodward was shot while down and then denied first aid, and instead putting forth a fraudulent homicide investigation, Governor Dean and William Sorrell conspired to obstruct the lawful application of justice in the matter of the police shooting of Robert Woodward.”
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