Will Gov. Rick Scott Right the Wrong Committed Against 'The Groveland Four'?
It's the governor's last chance to pardon the Groveland Four. It still isn't on the agenda.
In one of the many episodes from Florida's atrociously racist past, lawmakers finally wanted to correct an injustice committed against a group of four Black men known as "The Groveland Four."
In 2017, the Florida Legislature requested the state's Clemency Board, led by Gov. Rick Scott, to posthumously pardon four Black men who were falsely accused of raping a 17-year-old white woman and assaulting her husband in 1949.
Earnest Thomas, Charles Greenlee (then a minor at age 16), Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin are the young Black men who make up the "The Groveland Four."
Thomas fled and was killed by a posse several days later and 200 miles away; Greenlee, Shepherd and Irvin were arrested. They were beaten in jail to coerce confessions, but Irvin did not confess. The three survivors were convicted at trial by an all-white jury. Greenlee was sentenced to life because he was only 16 at the time of the crime; the other two were sentenced to death.
Shepherd would later be shot and killed in cold blood by a sheriff in Lake County, Florida, after he lied and said that Irwin and Shepherd tried to escape. Irvin survived the attack and informed the FBI that the two men were killed.
Irvin's case was retried and he was sentenced to life in prison by another all-white jury in 1951. He died in Lake County in 1969 after being paroled from prison a year prior.
In 2016, the City of Groveland, a suburb 30 miles outside of Orlando and Lake County each apologized to survivors of the four men for the injustices committed against them. The four were posthumously exonerated on April 18, 2017, by a resolution of the Florida House of Representatives. The state senate quickly passed a similar resolution, and lawmakers called on Florida Governor Rick Scott to officially pardon the men.
Scott and the other members of the Cabinet and Executive Clemency Board, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have basically remained silent regarding the request. Scott has essentially regurgitated the same cookie-cutter statement, most recently last week, saying: "That all options were being reviewed."
"My expectations are really low," state Rep. Bobby DuBose, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who sponsored the bill to exonerate the innocent men in 2017, said Monday morning.
Henrietta Irvin, Walter Irvin's now elderly sister, has expressed her need for the State of Florida to make the in justice right.
Author Gary Corsair who wrote the 2012 book "Legal Lynching: The Sad Saga of the Groveland Four" has maintained contact with Irvin's sister stated: "Henrietta Irving has gnarled hands that no longer work, a walker to get her from the bed to the bathroom, where her she cannot bathe herself, cases of Ensure to fill a stomach that's no longer interested in food, a rundown Section 8 house she can no longer clean … and the knowledge that her brother Walter was innocent."
"She only wants and needs one thing … the thing the State of Florida continues to withhold," he added. "The state of Florida hasn't gone the distance."
The light sentence given to the officer who killed McDonald, "suggests to us that there are no laws on the books for a Black man that a white man is bound to honor," said his great-uncle.
Hours of testimony at Jason Van Dyke's sentencing on Friday ended in shock for one family, and relief and happiness for the other.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is working to stop wheelchairs from getting damaged during air travel.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is leading the charge for better airline management of customers' motorized wheelchairs. Duckworth has been confined to a wheelchair since her helicopter was shot down in Iraq and she lost both of her legs.
President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday that said all furloughed workers would receive back pay once the government reopens. However, the Trump administration has ordered states not to provide unemployment coverage to federal workers who have been required to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor sent states a letter with that mandate, according to NPR. The Department of Labor said the roughly 420,000 federal employees who are "essential" cannot file for unemployment as they are "generally ineligible."
It also reported 10,454 initial claims by federal workers for the week that ended Jan. 5, doubling the previous week's figure. Thousands more have applied since, state officials said.
Newsom said the decision by the Department of Labor's decision was "jaw-dropping."
"So, the good news is, we're going to do it, and shame on them," he said.
"From a moral perspective, there is no debate on this issue and we will blow back aggressively on the Department of Labor."
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) reports unemployment claims for one week during the shutdown are up 600 percent from the same time last year. The state has over 245,000 federal employees.
Newsom encouraged people to continue to apply while the state figured out how to get the money. He estimated benefits that would last up to 26 weeks and provided a few hundred extra dollars a month. He said he knows it doesn't fix everything, but hopefully it helps.
His message to Trump: "Let us states do the job you can't seem to do yourself."
Some state officials said they had asked utilities and other companies to extend mercy to federal employees, and the federal Office of Personnel Management published sample letters that furloughed employees could send to creditors to ask for patience.
Texas has received more than 2,900 claims from federal workers since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, while Ohio is approaching 700. Kansas reported 445 filings, and Alabama was closing in on 500. Montana said it had logged almost 1,500.
Trump tweeted on Friday that he would be making a "major announcement" on Saturday about the government shutdown.
I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
A senior administration official told CNN that Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown.
Reader Question: How are people you know that are furloughed workers surviving?
The dance team's choreographer told Camille Sturdivant that her skin was "too dark" to perform because she "clashed" with uniforms.
Camille Sturdivant has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Blue Valley School District for the abuse she was subjected to as a member of the high school dance team.
A Black toddler was subjected to having her hair pulled and being pushed by the employee.
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"This shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms," said Ocasio-Cortez.