The Groveland Four were wrongly accused of raping a while woman in 1949, and the race is on to speed up the process to pardon them. At the forefront of this concern are Florida Republican lawmakers.
While the Florida legislature had asked for the men to be pardoned, a move has not been made for that to happen and no reason has been given as to why. In turn, several lawmakers have voiced their support in seeing the four men pardoned including the incoming Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, who is the only Democrat to have won her race for a position in the cabinet.
This week, Senator Marco Rubio also voiced his support by taking to the Senate Floor and calling for the incoming gubernatorial administration and cabinet to ensure that the Groveland Four are pardoned after “a horrible injustice.”
In his remarks, Rubio also informed that “This is what I come here to the Senate today, to urge the new Florida Cabinet to do as soon as possible after they take office next month. Because after 70 years, it is time for Florida to do the right thing for the Groveland Four.”
It is important to note that the Senator’s remarks were shared when the historical and bipartisan First Step Act was passed by the Senate, which is considered a big step forward to criminal justice reform.
Rubio also detailed that “While there is nothing we can do to give Mr. Thomas or Mr. Shepherd back their lives, there’s nothing we can do to give Mr. Irvin or Mr. Greenlee back the years they spent in jail for a crime they did not commit, we can give these men back their good name.”
Finally, the Florida Senator concluded his speech by saying that “What we can do now, as a state in Florida, is seek the forgiveness of their families and of them for the grave injustice that was committed against them.”