Memorial site eyed for Sacco, Vanzetti

Boston Globe, January 17, 1999

North End. A small patch of land in DeFillipo Park on Hull Street likely will be the site of a memorial to Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrants executed in 1927 for the murder of a paymaster and guard during a robbery in Braintree in 1920.

Members of the Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial Committee met recently with Parks Commissioner Justine Liff, who told them she had no objections to a memorial in the city-owned park that includes basketball and handball courts and a playground. The next step for the committee, said parks department spokeswoman Mary Hines, is to submit a written proposal, or concept paper, to the Parks Commission which has final approval.

Organizers hope the memorial will be completed by August, in time to observe the 72d anniversary of the executions.

"I am not judging whether they are guilty or not. That's not the issue," says local businessman Matteo Gallo, an Italian immigrant who, with Bill Verdi, president of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council, is leading the memorial effort. "The main thing is, they were discriminated against because they were immigrants."

The time for a memorial is now, says Gallo, pointing to the neighborhood demographics that shows a continuing decrease in residents of Italian descent. He and Verdi also want the location on the Freedom Trail.

Artwork for the approximately 1,500 square foot site is still being planned, with a decision expected next month. The committee also needs to raise about $50,000, Gallo says, and has set up a fund at the Citizens Bank on Hanover Street. So far, he says, "several thousand dollars" have been raised. Call 523-2100.

Compiled by Mary Hurley.