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FLORIDA (USA): WITH BACKING OF NEW GOVERNOR, CLEMENCY BOARD POSTHUMOUSLY PARDONS THE ‘GROVELAND FOUR’

January 15, 2019:

The Florida Clemency Board on 11 January 2019 unanimously granted posthumous pardons to the “Groveland Four,” four young African-American men falsely accused of raping a young white woman in Lake County, Florida in 1949.
During the racist hysteria following the accusation, white mobs burned down black residences, a massive white posse lynched a black suspect, all-white juries condemned two innocent men to death and an innocent teen to a life sentence, and a racist sheriff murdered one of the men and attempted to kill another. Gov. Ron DeSantis, convening the board for the first time since his election, urged it to grant clemency, calling the notorious case a “miscarriage of justice.” The state legislature issued a formal apology to the family members of the men in 2017, but former Gov. Rick Scott had taken no action on a pardon. The four black men – Charles Greenlee, Ernest Thomas, Walter Irvin and Samuel Shepherd – were accused of the 1949 rape of a 17-year-old white woman, Norma Padgett. Thomas escaped from custody but was hunted down and murdered by an angry mob. He was reportedly shot 400 times. White mobs burned and shot at the homes of black families, many of whom fled and never returned. Greenlee, Irvin, and Shepherd were beaten until they falsely confessed to the crime. All-white juries convicted them, sentencing World War II veterans Irvin and Shepherd to death and Greenlee, who was only 16 years old, to life in prison. The NAACP took up the men’s case, and they were represented by Thurgood Marshall, among others.
In 1951, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned Irvin and Shepherd’s convictions. Shortly after the reversal, Lake County Sheriff Willis V. McCall shot the two handcuffed men while he was driving them to a court appearance, and posed for a photo in front of their prone bodies. McCall claimed that he had acted in self-defense. Shepherd died. Irvin, who survived by playing dead until others arrived at the scene, was retried and once again sentenced to death by an all-white jury. He received a last-minute reprieve when the prosecutor expressed doubt as to his guilt and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Greenlee and Irvin were both eventually paroled, but Irvin died just one year after his release. Greenlee died in 2012. Carol Greenlee, Charles Greenlee’s daughter, testified in favor of the pardons. In an interview, she said, “I wanted two things to happen. I wanted the world to know the truth, and I wanted my daddy’s name cleared.” Governor DeSantis said, “I don’t know that there’s any way you can look at this case and think that [the] ideals of justice were satisfied. Indeed, they were perverted, time and time again.”
In addition to the pardon and the legislature’s apology, the Groveland Four also received an apology from the Orlando Sentinel, which inflamed passions with its racist coverage of the case in 1949. In particular, the newspaper apologized for running a political cartoon as the grand jury convened, showing four empty electric chairs with the title “No Compromise!” A Sentinel editorial published the day before the pardons said, “We’re sorry for the Orlando Sentinel’s role in this injustice. We’re sorry that the newspaper at the time did between little and nothing to seek the truth. We’re sorry that our coverage of the event and its aftermath lent credibility to the cover-up and the official, racist narrative.”

(Source: Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, New York TImes, 11/01/2019)

NIGERIA: EIGHT PEOPLE SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING ATTACK JOURNALISTS IN ADAMAWA COURT
IRAN: MAN HANGED IN PUBLIC, CHILDREN WATCHED
MALAYSIA: THREE MURDERERS TO HANG AFTER FINAL APPEALS DISMISSED
SRI LANKA: TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER SIX MURDERS IN 1999
NIGERIA: 5 TO HANG OVER OSUN ROBBERY
VIETNAM: SCHOOL TEACHER GETS DEATH SENTENCE FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
CHINA: CANADIAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR DRUG SMUGGLING
VIETNAM: DEATH PENALTY HANDED TO TWO HEROIN TRANSPORTERS
NIGERIA: 22-YEAR-OLD TO BE HANGED IN EKITI FOR ARMED ROBBERY
IRAN: MAN HANGED IN PUBLIC
CHINA: MAN COMPENSATED FOR WRONGFUL CONVICTION
IRAN: THREE MEN PUBLICLY EXECUTED FOR ARMED ROBBERY
NIGERIA: TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH IN ONDO FOR ARMED ROBBERY
MOROCCO: KING MOHAMMED VI PARDONS 783 PRISONERS
SOMALIA: SOMALI SOLDIER GIVEN DEATH SENTENCE FOR MURDERING CIVILIAN
IRAN: 12 MEN HANGED FOR MURDER CHARGES
TUNISIA: 41 SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER 2014 ATTACK ON ARMY
ARABIA: PAKISTANI NATIONAL EXECUTED IN DAMMAM FOR BEATING TO DEATH A SAUDI MAN
CHINA: MAN EXECUTED FOR KINDERGARTEN KNIFE ATTACK
IRAN: 12 EXECUTED ON DRUG CHARGES
INDIA: SC COMMUTES PUNE BUS ACCIDENT CONVICT'S DEATH PENALTY TO LIFE SENTENCE
NETFLIX’S THE INNOCENT MAN: THE AMERICAN INJUSTICE SYSTEM
QATAR: TWO ASIAN MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING EMPLOYER
TUNISIA: FIVE JIHADISTS SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER TEEN BEHEADING
BELARUS COURT PASSES DEATH SENTENCE ON MURDERER OF TWO GIRLS
BANGLADESH: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING COLLEGE TEACHER KRISHNA KABERI
BAHRAIN: COURT HANDS DOWN DEATH SENTENCES TO DUO CONVICTED OF SELLING NARCOTICS
CHINA: TWO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS ARE SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR SNATCHING NINE BOYS FROM THEIR NEIGHBOURS BEFORE SELLING THEM ON
MALDIVES: SUPREME COURT QUASHES NAIFARU WOMAN’S DEATH SENTENCE
IRAQ: AL-KARKH CRIMINAL COURT SENTENCES TO DEATH A TERRORIST WHO WAS ARRESTED IN POSSESSION OF AN EXPLOSIVE BELT AND TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT ANOTHER

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