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The Groveland Four: City Asks Governor For Exoneration

Walter Irvin, Charles Greenlee, and Samuel Shepherd. Photo: Gary Corsair

Groveland city officials passed a proclamation calling for the exoneration of the so-called “Groveland Four”.

The proclamation asks Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet to pardon the four – Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas.

The four African-American men were accused of raping a white woman in Groveland in 1949. Their arrest and trial is considered one of the great miscarriages of justice in the years prior to the civil rights movement.

All four men have since died. Thomas was killed by a posse after fleeing the area. The remaining three were found guilty by an all-white jury, but their attorney claimed their confessions were beaten out of them.

In 1951, while transporting Shepherd and Irvin, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall claimed the two tried to escape and shot them, killing Shepherd.

NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall helped defend Irvin during a retrial after the original conviction was overturned.


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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »