Sacco and Vanzetti
Two Italian anarchists made headlines when they committed a cold-blooded murder. Before it was over, it would develop into a worldwide controversy.
On April 15, 1920, a paymaster and guard of a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts, were shot and killed, and the payroll of over $15,000 was stolen. Three weeks later, the police arrested Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartholomeo Vanzetti, a fish salesman, and charged them with the crime.
The case came up for trial on May 31, 1921. At first, this murder and robbery generated only local interest, but soon the case attracted wider attention due to the politics of the accused murderers. Sacco and Vanzetti were immigrants, but politically they were anarchists who had participated in armed labor strikes. They were also pacifists who had evaded the draft in 1917 by going to Mexico. In presenting his case, the prosecuting attorney, Fred Moore, a prominent socialist lawyer, decided to emphasize their political beliefs and actions.
By doing this, he hoped to show the prosecutor's hidden motives against the Italian anarchist movement. Moore's dramatic, openly political defense, along with public meetings he organized, turned international attention to the case. Another reason that this trial became so big was that it coincided with the communist "Red Scare" in America. In comments made outside the court while the trial was still going on, the judge expressed his hatred of radicals. In July of 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty.
The verdict was disputed by the defense lawyers and other people who felt that the men had not been given a fair trial. The actual evidence was circumstantial and inconclusive. The judge, prosecuting attorney, and jury seemed to have been more influenced by their dislike for immigrants, radicals, and pacifists then by the facts...