Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sacco and Vanzetti

August 22 is the 80th anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrant workers who were convicted of murder during a 1920 Boston payroll robbery. The trial was marked by prejudice and irregularities. Sacco was a shoe-maker and Vanzetti was a fish peddler and both were active in the Italian American anarchist movement. Their arrest came in the midst of the first Red Scare, that saw thousands of socialists, anarchists, and union members arrested and even deported.

The judge in the case, Webster Thayer, stated to the jury "This man, (Vanzetti) although he may not have actually committed the crime attributed to him, is nevertheless culpable, because he is the enemy of our existing institutions."

Sacco and Vanzetti were supported by a broad cross section of liberal and progrssive opinion in the U.S. and worldwide. The 1922 American Federation of Labor convention adopted a resolution describing Sacco and Vanzetti as "victims of race and national prejudice and class hatred."

Fifty years after their execution, Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation stating that Sacco and Vanzetti were tried in an atmosphere permeated by prejudice against foreigners and hostility toward unorthodox political views and that therefore any stigma of disgrace should forever be removed from their names.

A recent documentary on Sacco and Vanzetti is now available on DVD

Website on Sacco and Vanzetti and the Italian American experience

Wikipedia on Sacco and Vanzetti

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