“This is what human rights means in the United States! This is the American way of life.” — Andrei Vishinsky — onetime Soviet foreign minister talking about the Groveland Four case

Well, almost seven decades later, the state of Florida took a step to correct a historic wrong. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the three other elected officials who make up the state’s clemency board unanimously granted pardons to Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas, four men who were falsely accused of a raping a white woman.

The Groveland Four are all dead now, but their story lives on as one of Florida’s great miscarriages of justice. Evidence collected showed inconsistencies in the “victim’s’ testimony and raised questions about the rape itself. One of the men was nowhere near the scene where the alleged crime took place. Three years after the arrest, two of the men were shot by the then Lake County sheriff before they were set to stand trial for a second time.

It’s not the first time the clemency board pardoned someone posthumously. In 2010, the board pardoned Jim Morrison of The Doors for a conviction of indecent exposure. Not quite the best example of “equal justice,” but we’ll take it.

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