Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society Mission
"This man, [Vanzetti] although he may not have actually committed the crime attributed to him, is nevertheless culpable, because he is the enemy of our existing institutions."
- Judge Webster Thayer
The trial and execution of radical Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti remain among the most infamous injustices in the history of the American criminal justice system. To read the impassioned writings of Sacco and Vanzetti is to understand why the United States government wanted the two agitators dead. However, when presented with a lack of any concrete evidence of their guilt in the matter of a robbery and shooting, Judge Thayer and the prosecution instead stirred up the rampant anti-Italian, anti-immigrant and anti-anarchist hatred of the era to convict the two men and eventually put them to death in the electric chair.
It is truly remarkable to note how little has changed in the 80 years following their execution. Nationalist fearmongering and the repression of dissidents is as prevalent today as it was during the Red Scare in the early 20th century. The way in which Arab and Latin@ immigrants are rounded up, detained and deported today under the pretext of the War on Terror and the War on Drugs is eerily similar to the Palmer Raid targeting immigrants in the 1920s.
And whereas the overwhelming majority of developed nations have abolished the death penalty, the retention of capital punishment in the United States keeps the U.S. in alarmingly poor company with other countries notorious for human rights abuses.
The Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society exists to preserve the memory of Sacco and Vanzetti's struggle to radically change society. We want to educate our neighbors about Massachusetts' radical history, and draw connections between the struggles of Sacco and Vanzetti and similar struggles today. We stand against the death penalty and political persecution as well as the persecution and scapegoating of immigrants.