Groveland Four pardoned by state of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Four black men, known as the Groveland Four, have had their names cleared after being falsely accused 70 years ago.

In 1949, the men were falsely accused of raping a white 17-year-old girl in Groveland, located in Central Florida. Since then, two of the men have been killed and the other two men have spent a collective 30 years in prison.

Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Clemency Board cleared the men's names. This after issuing a formal apology to the families of the victims two years ago.

After the four men were accused in 1949, one ran away only to be shot by a mob 400 times, according to lawmakers during the 2018 legislative session. The other three were tried and convicted. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned their convictions and while two of the men were being taken back to Lake County for a new trial, they were shot on the side of the road by then-Sheriff Willis McCall. One of those men died, the other survived.

The two men of the four accused who survived spent time in prison.

“For 70 years, these four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit," Governor DeSantis said. "As I have said before, while that is a long time to wait, it is never too late to do the right thing. I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The Perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this.”