The Biggest Trial of the 1920s Continues to Resonate
Sacco and Vanzetti were on trial for their Italianness and their political leanings as much as for their alleged crimes
People have been asking if Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were guilty of the crime for which they were executed for almost a hundred years.
The two Italian-American men were each charged with two counts of murder relating to an armed robbery in Massachusetts, in which $15,000 was stolen–they both pled not guilty.
Their trial was the event of the decade, according to many sources–it had political intrigue, anti-Italian racism, and drama inside and outside the courtroom over whether these two men had been unfairly accused.
In 1921, both were convicted of the crime and sentenced to death–though the evidence against them was “mostly circumstantial,” in the words of historian Moshik Temkin, and their trial was laden with racism and anti-anarchist sentiment.
Years of appeals would follow before their eventual executions, which prompted riots in Paris and London and left many still asking: Did they do it?