Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Earnest Thomas were accused of raping then-17-year-old Norma Padgett in 1949 after she alleged that they attacked her and her husband in Groveland, Florida.
Padgett said two of the men stopped to help and the two others showed up to fight and commit the sexual assault. Greenlee, Irvin and Shepherd were all arrested but Earnest Thomas was killed by a lynch mob lead by then-Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall. The other three were beaten brutally while in his custody.
According to NBCNews, the other three men are have passed away but Republican Governor Rick DeSantis pardoned all four men from their alleged crime last year saying:
During Friday’s event, DeSantis called the conviction of the four a “miscarriage of justice” and that a pardon “brought justice to the historical record.”
However, a pardon is not the justice that families are looking for. What they need, what we all need, is full exoneration stating that the “Groveland Four” never committed the crimes in the first damn place.
That said, Friday, the four men were honored with a memorial monument that explicitly spells out crimes that were committed against THEM.
“I think we haven’t reached the end of the road, but we have come a long way,” said Carol Greenlee, the daughter of Charles Greenlee, who was 16 and the youngest of the suspects when an all-white jury sentenced him to life in prison.
“Give me hope that we will make that final push for exoneration,” she added.
This is cool and all but we really would’ve liked to see these men get their good name back while they were alive.