Four black American men who were tried and jailed in 1949 on a misdemeanor charge of raping a teenage white girl have been acquitted after 72 years, although none of them are still alive to enjoy the verdict.
The four young men were prosecuted in 1949 by angry city police officers in Greenland, Florida, on charges of kidnapping and raping a teenage girl.
They were between 16 and 26 years old at the time of the incident.
Charles Greenley, Walter Irwin, Samoya Shepard and Ernest Thomas, later known as the Greenland Four, were formally pardoned in Florida in January 2019.
After this false accusation was made in the city of Greenland, about 1,000 men surrounded Ernest Thomas and shot him several hundred times.
The other three men were taken to court after being beaten to death and found guilty by jury members, all white men.
Samuel Shepherd was later shot dead by a local sheriff while on his way to court for a retrial.
Walter Irwin was executed in 1954, but his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, and he was pardoned and released a year later. He died in 1969.
Charles Greenley, the last member of the group to be sentenced to life in prison, was pardoned in 1962. He died in 2012.
A Florida judge has now acquitted all four of them and called their convictions false.
The four survivors, while expressing their excitement and satisfaction with the court ruling, expressed hope that the court’s decision would pave the way for many other African-American convicts to be acquitted of their charges and reinstated by a retrial. .
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