Isaac Woodard had on his uniform, so he knew the white bus driver recognized him as a WWII veteran. He repeated himself - he needed to get off. The driver smirked and kept driving. Would he respond to him like a human, or ignore him a second time?
Though this was the 1940s south, surely a veteran would be granted the mercy of a bathroom break during the next stop. Instead, as he exited the bus, several white police officers grabbed him. His nightmare had begun.
The police chief beat Woodard’s face and repeatedly poked his eyes with a nightstick. Severely injured, Woodard became unresponsive. He received medical attention, but something seriously life-changing happened because of the cops’ brutality.
The damage from the police attacks blinded him for life. The attack gained national attention when, after pressure from the NAACP, the federal government filed charges against the police chief. Of course, the police thug was found not guilty, but there was a bigger impact.
Woodard’s case was the first to garner mainstream attention about police brutality and violence against Black veterans. We must remember that even if we give our lives for this country - like many Black veterans do - it doesn’t guarantee our humanity will be respected.
The fight against police brutality must continue!