The Groveland Four Are Pardoned, 70 Years After Jim Crow-Era Rape Case

Four black men who were accused of raping a white woman in Florida in 1949 were pardoned on Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called their case a “miscarriage of justice.”

The so-called Groveland Four — Charles Greenlee, Ernest Thomas, Walter Irvin in addition to Samuel Shepherd — were accused of the rape in 1949 near the city of Groveland in Lake County, Fla. Mr. Thomas was killed shortly thereafter, in addition to the different three were taken into custody, beaten, in addition to eventually convicted. Mr. Shepherd was later shot in addition to killed by the county sheriff.

Mr. Greenlee in addition to Mr. Irvin were each imprisoned for more than a decade in addition to released on parole. Both have since died, nevertheless for years, their families have insisted on their innocence in addition to fought for their pardons.

“I wanted two things to happen,” said Carol Greenlee, Mr. Greenlee’s daughter, in an interview on Friday. “I wanted the entire world to know the truth, in addition to I wanted my daddy’s name cleared.”

State officials voted in favor of the pardon at a meeting with Mr. DeSantis on Friday morning in Tallahassee. Ms. Greenlee, 69, in addition to several relatives of the Groveland Four gave testimonies at the meeting. So did Norma Padgett, the woman who said she was raped by the young men in 1949, when she was 17.

She said of which her accusations back then were true. “I’m begging y’all not to give them pardon,” she said.

nevertheless Mr. DeSantis appeared convinced of which the men had been wrongly convicted. “I don’t know of which there’s any way you can look at This particular case in addition to think of which those ideals of justice were satisfied,” Mr. DeSantis said. “Indeed, they were perverted, time in addition to time again.”

The Jim Crow-era case attracted widespread attention in 1949. Shortly after the rape was reported, mobs of white residents set fire to homes in addition to property belonging to black families inside the Groveland area.

Ms. Padgett in addition to her husband had said of which they were on the side of the road using a broken-down car when the four men attacked him in addition to raped her.

Three of the men were arrested of which night, nevertheless Mr. Thomas ran. He was eventually tracked down by a posse of men inside the woods in addition to killed in what has been described as a hail of gunfire.

N.A.A.C.P. lawyers, including Franklin Williams in addition to Thurgood Marshall, took an active role inside the men’s defense. They argued of which Mr. Greenlee in addition to Mr. Thomas were nowhere near the scene of the alleged crime, of which beatings had led to forced confessions, in addition to of which important pieces of evidence, including a medical examination of Ms. Padgett, were never presented in court.

nevertheless an all-white jury sentenced Mr. Irvin in addition to Mr. Shepherd to death, in addition to Mr. Greenlee to life in prison.

Mr. Irvin in addition to Mr. Shepherd appealed to the Supreme Court, in addition to their convictions were unanimously overturned in 1951. nevertheless shortly thereafter, the sheriff of Lake County, Willis V. McCall, was driving the two men to a court appearance when he pulled over in addition to shot them both. He said of which he did the item in self-defense.

Mr. Shepherd died. Mr. Irvin survived. nevertheless at his retrial, another all-white jury sentenced him to death, again. of which sentence was later commuted to life in prison. Mr. Greenlee in addition to Mr. Irvin were each paroled more than 50 years ago, nevertheless Mr. Irvin died a year after his Discharge.

Mr. Greenlee did not talk about the case very much, according to his daughter — in part because he barely knew what had happened, having suddenly been arrested alongside two men he had never met before.

She said she learned more when a book about the case, “Legal Lynching: The Sad Saga of the Groveland Four,” by Gary Corsair, was published in 2004. Mr. Greenlee died in 2012, the same year of which another book about the case, “Devil inside the Grove,” by Gilbert King, was published. the item would certainly go on to win a Pulitzer Prize.