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"It's been a long, hard journey'

Clara Woodard, the woman arrested and jailed for stealing an umbrella from a downtown Winn-Dixie supermarket, says this has been a difficult year.

She is receiving psychological help and, shortly after the incident, her elderly father fell seriously ill. He has not recovered.

"It's been a long, hard journey, but Jesus has been right there at my side still," Mrs. Woodard said. "It's been a bad year for me, with that episode and my father. He can't even talk now."

On June 13, Mrs. Woodard, 56, was accused of stealing a $6.96 black umbrella while shopping at the Winn-Dixie store at 850 Third Ave. S. She was interrogated, arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. However, a videotape from Mercantile Bank, 240 First Ave. S, where Mrs. Woodard had made a deposit earlier that day, showed her with the umbrella long before the supermarket stop.

The state attorney's office later declined to prosecute her. Mrs. Woodard, who hired a lawyer after the arrest, said the matter has not been resolved.

"We're still going through the process and haven't completed it yet," she said.

Mrs. Woodard blames the false arrest for her father's illness. Joseph Savage, who led St. Petersburg's black garbage workers in the 1968 strike for higher wages, was in the store when she was handcuffed and taken to jail by St. Petersburg police.

"He was there shaking like a leaf on a tree," Mrs. Woodard said of her father, who is 75.

She will never go back into a Winn-Dixie store, she added.

"No, no, no. I don't even go in the grounds of Winn-Dixie. Now I have to go to a counselor . . . to get my life halfway going again. Because it's not the same."

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