I recently finished reading the book Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King. The book tells the story of the Groveland Boys who were falsely accused of raping a 17 year old white woman in Lake County, FL in 1949. I heard a few details about the case from a friend; however, I had no idea how out of hand race relations were in Florida before reading the book. As a child from both Alabama and Georgia, I thought that Florida was a race-neutral state where hostility was limited to the publicized Rosewood incident. I had no idea that Floridians are and have been more overtly hostile in race relations than other areas in the “deep south” but these incidents were simply white-washed or not publicized. I am so grateful that Mr. King took the time to thoroughly research the case and wrote a riveting book about the incident. The incident in Groveland happened several years ago; however, there are still issues that apply to the struggles of today that are revealed throughout the book.
1. Law Enforcement Killing Young Black Males.
2. Competent Representation for Indigent Defendants.
3. Prosecutors hiding exculpatory evidence.
4. Overuse of death penalty for black males.
5. Publicity of criminal cases and affect on criminal trials.
What I found most shocking was the deliberate killing of one of the defendants by the sheriff with no action against the sheriff. I have heard that there are no African American attorneys in private practice with an office in Lake County. It’s hard to practice law where the ends seem to justify the means and the rule of law is simply a a novelty.