Friday, 14 Dec 2018

The Florida "Groveland Four" case is a horrible injustice. Governor Rick Scott has still not forgiven the falsely accused.

Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks with reporters at a press conference at the US Coast Guard Air Base in Miami. (Alan Diaz / AP) In the pockets of the Deep South under Jim Crow's racist laws of the 1940s and 1950s, Lake County, Florida, was among the worst. The region, located in the middle of the state peninsula, was mainly composed of rural orange groves that had been demolished in the swamps. For nearly three decades, Sheriff Willis McCall fought Lake County as a sovereign ruler who oversaw his territory, maintaining public order, not as an instrument of justice, but rather as a cudgel to keep African Americans from the region in their place. In 1949, when a young white woman claimed to have been raped by a group of young blacks, McCall personally oversaw the arrests, torture, trials, and convictions of four innocent black men – an injustice known as "Groveland Four" case. Today, thanks to a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and increased attention to the case, the convictions against the "Groveland Four" have been recognized as one of the most important chapters in the world. ugly American legal history. Despite pressure from the four men's families – Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas – and the Florida legislature, outgoing governor Rick Scott (right) failed to grant them a pardon. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Clemency Committee was scheduled to hold its last meeting under Scott's administration on Wednesday. The "Groveland Four", however, were not on the official agenda and the meeting was eventually postponed indefinitely due to the passing of former President George H. W. Buisson. The inability to deal with this nearly 70-year-old injustice adds a troubling coda to the years of his tenure, as Florida struggled with a number of racist controversies, including the governor's recent race. Without the grace of the clemency council, it is unclear if one of Florida's great moral flaws will ever be repaired. "My expectations are really low," Bobby DuBose, a representative of the Democratic State in Fort Lauderdale who sponsored the bipartisan legislature to obtain his pardon, told Florida Politics Monday. The "Groveland Four" case checked all the boxes for a legal nightmare: it included a false allegation of rape; charged racial dynamics; a crowd of lynching; the accused were taken to death row; and fast-paced lawmen who could have gone out to murder their prisoners. It all started one summer evening, in July 1949, when Willie Padgett and his wife Norma, 17, dropped their car on a country road coming back from a dance. Shepherd and Irvin, friends and former friends of the army, would have stopped to help. Later, the couple will tell the Lake County authorities that the two men, along with Greenlee and Thomas, attacked Willie and then raped Norma. Hours after the incident, Shepherd, Irvin and Greenlee (16) were in McCall's custody, where they were beaten and tortured, according to Gilbert King's book "The Devil in the Grove." Thomas escaped, only to be tracked and fatally killed by law enforcement 200 miles northwest of Lake County. An angry crowd of 400 whites circled the prison where the remaining three suspects were. Although they rushed into hiding, the furious crowd fell on Groveland, the African-American community of Lake County. Businesses and homes were burned down in the violence that followed. Although the three men had alibis during the alleged rape, there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime and it was debatable whether an assault would even have occurred, but they were both promptly found guilty. by a local jury in 1949. in prison. Shepherd and Irvin were sentenced to death. Finally, the United States Supreme Court dismissed the convictions against Shepherd and Irvin. A new trial has been ordered. In November 1951, McCall personally brought the men back to Lake County. Along the way, the car stopped, bullets were fired and Shepherd and Irvin were shot. McCall later claimed that the two had tried to escape when the sheriff had stopped to check a tire. Shepherd was killed but Irvin survived the shooting and later testified that McCall had shot them in cold blood. "I got rid of them," McCall told his police radio after the shooting, Irvin added, according to PBS. "Killed the sons of b —– s." A coroner's inquest later clears the sheriff during the shooting. After recovering from his gunshot wounds, Irvin was again tried for the alleged assault on Norma Padgett. Although represented by NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, behind the organization's efforts to uproot the laws of Jim Crow and the future Supreme Court Justice, Irvin was again convicted and sentenced to death. During the second conviction, the national and international outrage aroused by the case was at its critical point. As reported by PBS, the Soviet Union even began using the "Groveland Four" case in its propaganda as an example of American racism. Irvin was saved from execution by the Florida governor in 1954. He was later released from prison in 1968 and died of a heart attack two years later. Greenlee was released in 1962 and died in 2012. Although Greenlee and Irvin spent 33 years in prison for a crime they did not commit, they were never officially pardoned. Due to national outrage aroused by King's book and other reports on injustice, the Florida legislature passed a resolution in 2017 to apologize for the "grave injustices committed against Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas ". Scott and his administration "to conduct an expedited review of leniency". This review, however, is at a standstill. "We want closure. We want them to forgive, whatever the fate, "Walter Irvin's nephew, Eddie Lee Irvin Jr., told Orlando Rising last April. "They now have the evidence, the FBI thing, that they were innocent from the start." According to Florida Politics, Scott's office answered questions from last week about late clemency stating that the administration was "continuing to review all of our information on Morning Mix." : The historic moment of a football player was marred by a man's question: "Do you know how to twerk?" Born in Philadelphia, a US citizen says that he was placed in detention for deportation to Jamaica at the request of ICE that George Conway shows a "total lack of respect" towards Kellyanne.

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