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The 1920's
Justice Sees Red - The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Part 2

The 1920's
The 1920's


Justice Sees Red - The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Part 2
Print Justice Sees Red - The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Part 2 Reading Comprehension


Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.7

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    alibi, ballistics, blitz, Celestino, circumstantial, cross-examination, culpable, innocente, Madeiros, Sono, tribunal, foreign-born, payroll, harvard, precursor, inmate
     content words:    Nicola Sacco, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, District Attorney A., Attorney Fred H., Judge Webster Thayer, Judge Thayer, Harvard President A., Lawrence Lowell, Of Vanzetti, Celestino F.


Justice Sees Red - The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Part 2
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Two suspects, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, both Italian immigrants, were in custody, charged with the Braintree robbery and murders. When questioned, the men lied about several matters, including the origin of the guns found on their persons and their association with radical groups.
 
2     At the time of his arrest, a revolver similar to the one dropped by the payroll guard was discovered in Vanzetti's possession. Police also found that Sacco had been absent from the shoe factory where he worked on the day of the crime. A dark cap picked up at the scene of the shooting appeared to be the type worn by Nicola Sacco. It had a small tear on the inside consistent with the nail on which Sacco habitually hung his cap at work. Eyewitnesses were hazy at first in their identification of the two men.
 
3     District Attorney A. Katzmann worked to build the prosecution's case. Attorney Fred H. Moore of California was hired to defend the two Italians. Flamboyant and a little radical himself, Moore's first tactic was a public relations blitz. He broadcast the case far and wide as an attempt by the powerful to railroad two innocent working men. Moore appealed to labor groups, radicals, and immigrants with his message: the two Italian men were being framed. Their only real crime, Moore insisted, was that they were foreign-born, and even worse, that they were "active and influential radicals."
 
4     The judge, Moore claimed, was prejudiced against radicals and immigrants. Vanzetti had, in fact, previously appeared before Judge Webster Thayer. The judge had handed down an unusually harsh sentence when the jury, on circumstantial evidence, declared Vanzetti guilty of robbery. Thayer is reported to have stated to the jury: "This man, although he may not have actually committed the crime...is nevertheless morally culpable, because he is the enemy of our existing institutions." Peers of Judge Thayer later reported the judge often expressed his dislike of dissidents and "Reds." At the trial, Katzmann questioned both men on their loyalty to their adopted country. Defense objections to this line of inquiry were overruled.
 
5     During his examination, Katzmann had Sacco don the dark cap found at the scene. Sacco said the cap was too big. Katzmann retorted that it looked like a good fit to him. The cap was actually a size larger than what Sacco usually wore. Ballistics proved that one of the shell casings found at the scene could have been fired from Sacco's gun. Witnesses now placed Sacco at the crime scene. Observers were not quite so positive about Vanzetti's presence at the scene of the shooting. The prosecution, however, emphasized the similarity between Vanzetti's gun and the weapon of the payroll guard.

Paragraphs 6 to 11:
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