Sacco & Vanzetti: 1920-27
Sacco and Vanzetti were two immigrant Italian anarchists who were supporters of the anarchist s Luigi Galleani, an advocate of revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination intended to spark a mass uprising that would overthrow capitalism.

Prior to their arrest in 1920, the two men were not prominent in anarchist circles in the United States.

However, the supporters of Galleani’s writings were active in the U.S. beginning in 1914 where bombings were carried out throughout the U.S.

The Galleanists, as they were known, attempted mail bombings to 36 prominent industrialists, judges and polticians in April 1919, though none were killed.

Following this up in June, eight more powerful bombs went off eight U.S. cities, including at the home of U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in Washington, D.C.

The bombs were accompanied by identifical flyers which read,

“War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge; there will have to be murder: we will kill, because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.”

At the time the U.S. was swept by a post World War I labor strike wave and hit by large scale race riots in a number of cities, including Washington, D.C. The upper class was terrified that this was the beginning of a revolution like that of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia.

Palmer used the bombings as an excuse to round up left wing activists, the overwhelming majority not linked to any crime, and deport them in the first red scare in 1919.

Anarchists throughout the U.S. began to go “underground.”

Against this backdrop, a robbery occurred at the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company factory in Braintree, Ma. Where two security guards were killed. Another attempted robbery occurred in nearby Bridgewater. Police speculated that anarchists conducted the robbery to finance their activities.

Sacco and Vanzetti were soon arrested on circumstantial evidence, while other alleged accomplices escaped. Indictments followed.

In response, Galleanists and anarchists in the United States and abroad began a campaign of violent retaliation. Two days later on September 16, 1920, the Wall Street bombing took place, where a time-delay dynamite bomb packed with heavy iron sash-weights in a horse-drawn cart exploded, killing 38 people and wounding 134. In 1921, a booby trap bomb mailed to the American ambassador in Paris exploded, wounding his valet. For the next six years, bombs exploded at other American embassies all over the world.[37]

The men were quickly convicted together for the robbery and attempted robbery that took place in two separate trial in 1920 and 1921. At the time of the trials there was little public support for the men.

However, a small defense committee and one of the Sacco and Vanzetti attorneys, Fred H. Moore, began raising doubts about the evidence and charging that the men were convicted for their political beliefs.

Support built in the ensuing years until mass demonstrations were held urging freedom for the men in every major U.S. city and many around the world.

At their sentencing, Vanzetti said:[

“I would not wish to a dog or to a snake, to the most low and misfortunate creature of the earth, I would not wish to any of them what I have had to suffer for things that I am not guilty of. But my conviction is that I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I am an Italian and indeed I am an Italian...if you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already.”

Despite the appeals and the lengthy time between trial and sentencing, Judge Thayer imposed the death penalty and appeals for clemency were turned down by Massachusetts Gov. Alvan Fuller.

The two men were executed August 22, 1927. More than 20,000 protested at Boston Commons the previous day. The day following the execution, protests swept cities throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Violent demonstrations occurred in Geneva, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. In South America wildcat strikes closed factories. Three died in Germany, and protesters in Johannesburg burned an American flag outside the American embassy.

At Langone Funeral Home in Boston's North End, more than 10,000 mourners viewed Sacco and Vanzetti in open caskets over two days. At the funeral parlor, a wreath over the caskets announced In attesa l'ora della vendetta (Awaiting the hour of vengeance). On Sunday, August 28, a two-hour funeral procession bearing huge floral tributes moved through the city. Thousands of marchers took part in the procession, and over 200,000 came out to watch.

--partially excerpted from Wikipedia
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