Fresh off of being sworn-in, Governor Desantis has taken action concerning the “Groveland Four” in what has grown to be one of the most notorious cases from the Jim Crow era in the sunshine state. In a unanimous vote, Governor DeSantis and the state Cabinet have voted to pardon the “Groveland Four.”
Florida’s new Attorney General, Ashley Moody, commented that this pardoning was about “righting a wrong of 70 years ago,” and she expressed that “by anyone’s judgement of this case, due process and the norms that we have that protect liberties of people now in today’s law and in our justice system were not afforded to these defendants.”
The “Groveland Four” were accused in 1949 of raping a white woman in Lake County. In turn, one of the four, Earnest Thomas, was killed by a posse after the accusation, and the other three men were beaten to coerce confessions before being convicted.
Nikki Fried, the sunshine state’s new Agriculture Commissioner, said that the pardon “marks progress and resolution on an undeniable injustice of the past.”
Governor DeSantis commented on the matter, saying that the pardon concerned more with the actions of Lake County officials and the state criminal justice system. He explained, “you’d like to think that in America no matter what passions or prejudices may be on the outside of a courtroom, that when you actually get in that courtroom that it’s the law applied to the facts without passions or prejudices that will decide your fate. And I don’t know that there is any way you could look at this case and think that those ideals of justice were satisfied. Indeed, they were perverted time and time again.”
Praising Lake County officials who urged the need for the “Groveland Four” to be pardoned, DeSantis noted that “it says a lot about them that they’re willing to look back at this and acknowledge that this was not right.”