Hey friends and comrades. Today is the annual march for Sacco and Vanzetti. Join us at 2pm at the visitor’s center on the Boston Common, and we will march to the North End. My band Jake and the Infernal Machine will play a few songs, and generally this is a wonderful event. Below is an article I wrote on Sacco and Vanzetti for the 12th issue of the BAAM Newsletter back in 2008:
Remember Sacco and Vanzetti
by Jake Carman
“I wanted a roof for every family, bread for every mouth, education for every heart, light for every intellect. I am convinced that the human history has not yet begun–that we find ourselves in the last period of the prehistoric. I see with the eyes of my soul how the sky is diffused with rays of the new millennium.” – Bartolomeo Vanzetti
81 years ago today, two Italian immigrants, workers and anarchists, Niccola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were electrocuted by the state of Massachusetts for the robbery of a payroll and murder of a paymaster and guard at a Braintree shoe-factory. The seven-year trial preceding the execution proved their innocence to everyone besides the Massachusetts judicial system, anti-immigrant racists and anti-radical reactionaries. The trial is still known as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in history. Millions of people protested for Sacco and Vanzetti’s freedom, and then mourned their deaths on almost every continent, and their funeral procession from the North End of Boston to the site of their cremation in Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plain, was the largest procession of any kind in Boston until the Patriots won the Superbowl in 2002. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis even signed a proclamation saying, “Any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti… We are here to say that the high standards of justice, which we in Massachusetts take such pride in, failed Sacco and Vanzetti.”
Sacco and Vanzetti were not executed for killing a paymaster or robbing a payroll. They were the victims of the Government in a period marked by widespread fear of immigrants and especially ones who held radical ideas. Sacco and Vanzetti were both deeply involved in a very active local Italian anarchist movement. It was for their heritage, their belief in and work toward a revolution for the emancipation of all oppressed people that they were imprisoned and then murdered. As Judge Webster Thayer, the presiding judge from a prominent military family said to a friend after denying Sacco and Vanzetti’s appeal, “Did you see what I did to those anarchist bastards? That ought to hold them for a while.”
The arrests of Sacco and Vanzetti came at the beginning of the Palmer Raids, and their execution ushered in the Red Scare, the combination of which amounted to a period of anti-radical, anti-worker repression that killed the hopes of a new American Revolution and spelled doom for those who fought for a better life. We still live in this period. The same anti-immigrant racism and anti-radical repression by the government is very much alive today; and though our movements for freedom and justice are growing, the State hits us with their forces wherever we dare stand up. Take a look at the recent raids against migrant workers in Massachusetts (New Bedford Raids pg 1), the anti-anarchist propaganda the Government is using to target protesters during the Democratic and Republican National Convention (pg 5), or the brutal attacks of the police on the Industrial Workers of the World last year ( In North Providence pg 7). If we are to continue our work towards a future of liberation, we will need to remember the lessons learned and the struggles fought by those who have passed before us. The road to freedom is long and treacherous, but with strong hearts, stubborn wills and thoughtful minds, together we can prevail.