By Elizabeth Pimentel, August 23, 2022
An object we call The Vanzetti Knife has been in my family for more than 100 years. It belonged to Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fish peddler in Plymouth, Mass., in the 1910s. He was arrested along with Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, for the murder of a guard and paymaster during the 1920 robbery of the payroll at a shoe company in nearby South Braintree.
Today, Aug. 23, 2022, is the 95th anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, which historians now recognize as a massive miscarriage of justice. Their biggest sin was that they were Italian immigrants and anarchists when many Americans were biased against Italians and radicals, a time during which a wave of strikes and terrorist acts had aroused hatred against communists and foreigners.
At their trial in 1921, the evidence against them was conflicting and unreliable. But there is strong evidence that anti-Italian and anti-immigrant prejudice influenced the judge, jury and prosecution.