Publication Date

2010

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Paula Green

Abstract

This research covers the topic of reconciliation as a possible initiative to aid in the response to a community level conflict in Brattleboro, Vermont. On Dec. 2, 2001 Robert (Woody) Woodward entered All Souls Church in West Brattleboro and left in an ambulance after police officers shot him with seven bullets. There were varying experiences and opinions about what happened in the church that day. For the next several years there was conflict and struggle in the community to deal with this event. Many people experienced stress and trauma; some people left the church because of the difficulties.

The question this inquiry asked was, “What were the experiences and needs of the community in the wake of the police shooting of Robert Woodward at the All Souls Church in Brattleboro, VT, on Dec. 2, 2001, and what can be learned from what was and was not done to facilitate community reconciliation in the aftermath of this shooting?” The case study method of inquiry was used. Data was gathered from eight in-person interviews, studying material culture, and from the author’s personal experience within the community.

The main conclusions of this research are 1) There were, in fact, divergent experiences of the incident that took place at All Souls Church Dec. 2, 2001. 2) The community needed information and understanding about what happened and how people experienced it, people also needed to know what options there were for them to process the event and how to get people to participate. 3) Two major obstacles to addressing the community needs were the media and the legal process. 4) A systematic response for processing this event was not performed and 5) there are unresolved feelings and issues remaining within the ASC community and larger community. 6) Lastly, thinking outside the current justice paradigm and/or using one of the reconciliation approaches may have resulted in a healthier community outcome.

Disciplines

Peace and Conflict Studies | Social Psychology and Interaction | Social Welfare

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