Florida: Justice delayed is not always justice denied. Four black men who were wrongly accused of raping a white teenager here 70 years were pardoned, Friday. Even though none of the four are alive at present, it was a great relief to their families. A section of the British and American media reported on the case Saturday.
Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas, infamously known as the ‘Groveland Four’ were accused of abducting and raping Norma Padgett in Groveland in 1949. There were doubts about Padgett’s testimony from the onset of the hearing, but even then the four were convicted.
Thomas was hunted down by more than 1,000 men shortly after the alleged incident and was shot hundreds of times. The three others were beaten in custody before being convicted by all-white juries. Samuel Shepherd was later shot and killed by a sheriff while travelling to a retrial.
However, they were finally cleared of all accusations as officials voted unanimously to issue the pardon at a meeting in the state capital of Tallahassee, Friday. None of the men were present in person, but their family members were in attendance to plead their innocence.
The case has always been marked as a racial injustice and was the subject of the book ‘Devil in the Grove’, which won the Pulitzer in 2013.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who had only taken over responsibilities Tuesday said in a statement Friday, “These four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit. It was a miscarriage of justice.”