This Day In History: Sacco and Vanzetti are Executed (1925)

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This day in history two Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murder in America. Their case caused an outcry around the world. Many believed that it was a miscarriage of justice and the men were being victimised because of their political beliefs.In 1920 a manager and a security were killed during a robbery. There were two killers and they are described as Italian men. The robbers stole approximately 15,000 dollars. Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. Although both men carried guns and made false statements upon their arrest, neither had any previous criminal record.  However, they were known sympathizers of the anarchist movement. This was a radical and revolutionary movement and it believed that all forms of government are tyrannical and they should be abolished. In, 1921 Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted of the double murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

In 1920 a manager and a security were killed during a robbery. There were two killers and they are described as Italian men. The robbers stole approximately 15,000 dollars. Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. Although both men carried guns and made false statements upon their arrest, neither had a previous criminal record.  However, they were known sympathizers of the anarchist movement. This was a radical and revolutionary movement and it held that all forms of government are tyrannical and they should be abolished. In, 1921 Sacco and Vanzetti they were convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair Massachusetts.

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Vanzatti (left) and Saccho (right)

Many people in America wee concerned about the rise of the radical left in the country  and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was seen as an effort to intimidate the radicals.  The government and law enforcements agencies were on alert for radicals who threatened violence. There has been a spate of terrorist attacks related to these radicals. The police and the prosecution had failed to come up with any evidence of the stolen money. Much of the evidence against the two anarchists was later discredited or ruled admissible. During the next few years, sporadic protests were held in Massachusetts and around the world calling for their release.

In fact, many believed that the guilty person was already in custody.  An Italian immigrant Celestino Madeiros, already convicted for another murder, confessed in 1925 to the killings. He stated that  he had participated in the murders  with the notorious Joe Morelli gang.

The state Supreme Court refused to overturn the verdict, and the Massachusetts Governor denied the men clemency.

In the days leading up to the execution, protests were held in cities around the world. The imminent executions also provoked a wave of bombings.  However on August the 23rd, Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted, within a short time of each other. Their funerals became public demonstrations against what many saw as their ‘political’ executions.

The case of Sacco and Vanzetti remained controversial down the years.

In 1961, forensic  tests of Sacco’s gun using modern forensic techniques, not available in 1920,  proved it was his gun that killed the guard. This was the only piece of evidence every produced.

In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (and future presidential candidate)  issued a proclamation vindicating Sacco and Vanzetti, stating that they had been treated unjustly and that they had been wrongly convicted in all probability.

 

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