City council to discuss 'Groveland Four' proclamation

Mayor wants Gov. Rick Scott to pardon men

GROVELAND, Fla. – The Groveland City Council is expected to discuss a proclamation Tuesday aimed at clearing the names of four African-American men charged with rape more than 60 years ago. 

The men are known as the "Groveland Four."

"The only way we can begin to heal is to bring as much of the truth as we can possibly put our hands on," Mayor Tim Loucks said.

The alleged attack happened in 1949, but there was never any hard evidence linking the men to the crime.

One suspect was shot to death by the sheriff of Lake County, and another was hunted down by a posse and killed.

A third suspect was also shot, but survived by playing dead.

The fourth suspect survived and earned parole. He died in 2012.

News 6 last week uncovered a proclamation by the mayor of Groveland, proclaiming his support to exonerate the "Groveland Four." It also encouraged Gov. Rick Scott to pardon the men immediately.

Groveland resident Bernice Hodges knew the men and said she believes they would be grateful for the apology. 

"They would accept it, I would imagine," said Hodges. "They'd be really happy about it, because they usually accuse us of doing something and that's it, you just did it."

The proclamation hasn't come without backlash.

Loucks told News 6 that he's received threatening phone calls since the word spread about what he had planned.

"The best thing I can do is hope and pray those people will wake up and realize those days are long gone and behind us," Loucks said.

The proclamation is expected to be discussed at a meeting Tuesday, and family members of the men are expected to be in attendance. 


About the Author:

Justin Warmoth joined News 6 in February 2013 as our Brevard County reporter. In March of 2016, after anchoring the weekend mornings since August of 2015, Justin was promoted to weekday morning anchor. You can catch him Monday through Friday mornings from 5-7 a.m. and at noon.