Issac Woodard was an African American World War II veteran. Hours after being honorably discharged from the United States Army on February 12, 1946, he was attacked while still in uniform by South Carolina police over a dispute with a bus driver over the use of the restroom.
The attack and his injuries sparked national outrage and galvanized the civil rights movement in the United States.
The attack left Woodard completely and permanently blind.
Due to South Carolina's reluctance to pursue the case, President Harry S. Truman ordered a federal investigation. The sheriff was indicted and went to trial in federal court in South Carolina, where he was acquitted by an all-white jury.
On February 12, 1946, former U.S. Army Sergeant Isaac Woodard Jr. was on a Greyhound Lines bus traveling from Camp Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, where he had been discharged, en route to rejoin his family in North Carolina. When the bus reached a rest stop just outside Augusta, Woodard asked the bus driver if there was time for him to use a restroom.
The driver grudgingly acceded to the request after an argument. Woodard returned to his seat from the rest stop without incident, and the bus departed
The bus stopped in Batesburg. Though Woodard had caused no disruption, the driver contacted the local police (including Chief of Police Lynwood Shull), who forcibly removed Woodard from the bus.
After demanding to see his discharge papers, a number of policemen, including Shull, took Woodard to a nearby alleyway, where they beat him repeatedly with nightsticks. They then took Woodard to the town jail and arrested him for disorderly conduct, accusing him of drinking beer in the back of the bus with other soldiers.
During the course of the night in jail, Shull beat and blinded Woodard. Woodard also suffered partial amnesia as a result of his injuries.
In his court testimony, Woodard stated that he was punched in the eyes by police several times on the way to the jail, and later repeatedly jabbed in his eyes with a billy club.
Newspaper accounts indicate that Woodard's eyes had been "gouged out"; historical documents indicate that each globe was ruptured irreparably in the socket.
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