Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9, 1927: Protests held to denounce death sentences of Sacco and Vanzetti

 On this day in 1927, a strike and protest was held to show solidarity with convicted murderers Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.  Sacco and Vanzetti were set to be executed following a controversial court case that found them guilty of the robbery and murder of a clerk and security guard in Braintree, Massachusetts. Many were outraged over the handling of the case and there was much controversy as to whether or not they had received a fair trial.  

A one day strike was called for by the Socialist party, the I.W.W. and the Sacco-Vanzetti Emergency Committee and an alleged 392,000 participated. Protests were held throughout the city in which various people spoke up about the unfair treatment that these two men had received.  Approximately 15,000 gathered at Union Square alone and five platforms were set up in the north side of the park. Though police were on high alert, things remained peaceful. These protests were mainly limited to the garment industry and thus did little to disrupt the activities of the city.  From the Union Square gather, the following telegram was sent to the governor of Massachusetts, Alvin T. Fuller:

“In the name of tens of thousands of workers and progressive-minded people assembled in Union Square, New York we call upon you to grant immediate and complete freedom to Sacco and Vanzetti. We express our complete faith in the innocence of these workers. We condemn the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti as a frame-up and your commission as a sham and hypocrisy and carried out in the same frame-up spirit as the trial. We want unconditional liberation of Sacco and Vanzetti. No Life imprisonment. No extension of prison sentence. Sacco and Vanzettie are innocent. Let them be freed.”

Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on August 23, 1927 despite the protests held in New York and around the world.  Years later, on the 50th anniversary of their execution, then governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis issued a statement condemning the trial of these two men as unfair. 

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