Virtually 70 years in the past, 4 black males had been wrongly accused of abducting and raping a white teenaged woman. On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued full posthumous pardons to Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, who got here to be often known as the “Groveland 4” and who, in 1949, had been convicted of raping 17-year-old Norma Padgett, although there was no proof of a criminal offense.
The alleged sufferer, Padgett, remains to be alive and stands by her testimony. Friday, she opposed the pardons, imploring DeSantis to not grant them. As CNN studies, “the clemency panel, which was composed of high officers together with the legal professional normal, praised the work of campaigners earlier than issuing the pardons.”
After the alleged rape, multiple thousand males tracked down Thomas, taking pictures him a whole bunch of occasions. The opposite males had been crushed in custody and later convicted by all-white juries within the Jim Crow state. A sheriff later shot and killed Shepherd as he was en path to a retrial. Greenlee was sentenced to life in jail, and Irvin — who was additionally shot by the sheriff who killed Shepherd, however survived by taking part in useless — obtained the loss of life penalty, however his sentence was commuted to life in jail.
In his assertion pardoning the lads, DeSantis mentioned the Groveland 4 “have had their historical past wrongly written for crimes they didn’t commit.” He went on:
“As I’ve mentioned earlier than, whereas that’s a very long time to attend, it’s by no means too late to do the appropriate factor. I imagine the rule of regulation is society’s sacred bond. When it’s trampled, all of us undergo. For the Groveland 4, the reality was buried. The Perpetrators celebrated. However justice has cried out from that day till this.”
DeSantis, who mentioned throughout his marketing campaign that he would prioritize this case, issued the pardons throughout his first week in workplace. He was simply inaugurated on Tuesday.