Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, best known as the Groveland Four, were pardoned after being wrongfully convicted of raping a 17-year-old lady in 1949.
Even though none of the men are alive at the moment, some members of their families attended the meeting in the state capital of Tallahassee to plead their innocence and clear their names. The process was initiated two years ago when Rick Scott was the Governor of Florida.
However, the now U.S. Senator didn't do anything to pardon the Groveland Four. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who replaced Scott only a week ago, made the pardons a priority.
When the crime took place (1949), black people were not granted many civil rights, something that unfortunately led to the death of Thomas, who was hunted down by a posse of more than 1,000 men and shot hundreds of times.
The rest of the three alleged criminals went to jail and, while in custody, they were beaten. Shepherd, one of the Groveland Four, was killed by a sheriff while travelling to a retrial months after the crime took place. The case was so popular yet infamous that Gilbert King wrote a book titled "Devil in the Grove" that earned a Pulitzer Prize.
Source: WFTV Channel 9
After revising the details of the crime and how everything was handled, it was labeled as one of the most striking historical racial injustices in the US. The alleged victim was also present during the pardon hearing, saying that the crime did happen and that she was against the pardons.
Source: WFTV Channel 9
DeSantis shared his thoughts on the Groveland Four saying, "These four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit. They were perverted time and time again, and I think the way this was carried out was a miscarriage of justice."
Later, the man posted a tweet proving how proud he felt for the decision taken, "This morning, I stood with the members of the Executive Clemency board to issue a full pardon for the Groveland Four. It’s never too late to do the right thing, especially for these individuals who have had their history so wrongly written."
Unfortunately, it is not the first time that a person is wrongfully convicted. Elmer Daniels, was 18 years old in 1980 when he was taken to jail for allegedly raping a 15-year-old white girl, but it wasn’t until December 2018 that prosecutors dropped the case and set him free.
After that, Daniels pointed out that getting angry wouldn't change anything and that he wanted to focus on the victims. "My family became victims, I became a victim, and I pray that there are no more victims. Get it right. The justice system is broken," finished the man.
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