On this day in 1927, Italian immigrants and anarchist leaders Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were put to death by electrocution in Charlestown, MA for a crime they probably did not commit. The story of Sacco and Vanzetti continues to be studied as an example of xenophobia and failures of the criminal justice system in America. As much as we’ve advanced in the past 80 years there’s still a lot that hasn’t changed. In the 1920’s, Italians were seen as fearsome foreigners while today Italian-Americans are part of the mainstream American population that can look at new immigrants and foreigners as criminals. Similarly, those with unpopular political views are not always granted free speech and sometimes are punished for their views. I don’t know what lesson there is here other than looking back at the past as the good old days or saying that we’re better now than we were then are both wrong.
More on the anniversary of Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution at:
Replaying injustice: Sacco and Venzetti, 80 years later by Mike Milliard, Boston Phoenix
Lessons of Sacco and Vanzetti by Peter Miller, The Huffington Post
Sacco and Vanzetti: Innocent or Guilty by Jack Kelly, American Heritage
Italy’s American Baggage byAndrea Cammileri, The New York Times