Sacco and Vanzetti
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Ferdinando Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927) were two Italian-born American laborers and anarchists, who were tried, convicted and executed via electrocution on August 23, 1927 in Massachusetts for the 1920 armed robbery and murder of two pay-clerks in South Braintree, Massachusetts.
Their controversial trial attracted enormous international attention, with critics accusing the prosecution and presiding Judge Webster Thayer of improper conduct, and of allowing anti-Italian, anti-immigrant, and anti-anarchist sentiment to prejudice the jury. Prominent Americans such as Felix Frankfurter and Upton Sinclair publicly sided with citizen-led Sacco and Vanzetti committees in an ultimately unsuccessful opposition to the verdict. Sacco's and Vanzetti's execution elicited mass-protests in New York, London, Amsterdam and Tokyo, worker walk-outs across South America, and riots in Paris, Geneva, Germany and Johannesburg.
Sacco and Vanzetti's actual guilt remains a source of controversy. Significant post-trial evidence emerged suggesting innocence in addition to doubts about the fairness of their murder trial. These include modern ballistics tests on the alleged murder weapon, revelations of mishandled evidence, recanted testimony, a confession to the murder by a known bank robber, and statements by multiple individuals involved in the case.