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Sacco and Vanzetti were always guilty

On April 15, 1920, the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company factory in Braintree, Massachusetts was robbed by a gang of what is believed to be 5 men. Two men, security guard Alessandro Berardelli and factory paymaster Frederick Parmenter, were carrying workers’ pay between buildings when the gang fell on them. Berardelli was immediately shot as he tried to draw his weapon. Parmenter, who was unarmed, was shot in the chest and then shot a second time in the back as he tried to run away. The gang sped away, easily escaping the small local police force as they scrambled to respond. The robbers pointed their guns and fired at a crowd of witnesses leaving the city.

Investigators were able to recover six of the bullets fired at the victims. Although 5 had been fired from a Savage 1907, a 6th was fired from an unknown but different .32 caliber pistol. Among the shells found, the most remarkable discovery was that two of the shells were of a very rare Winchester type that had been discontinued years earlier and was impossible to purchase commercially.

Police noted the parallels between the Braintree robbery and a robbery on December 24, 1919 in Bridgewater, MA. A group of 4 men in a stolen car had attacked a truck carrying payroll cash. Although no one was injured in this crime, the robbers fired at the truck and surrounding vehicles while the guards returned fire. A shotgun shell was recovered at the crime scene. The perpetrators were suspected to be Italian anarchists, who were then desperate to raise funds for the legal defense of their members caught up in an accelerated Justice Department investigation into domestic radicalism.

At the time, the anarchists, mostly Italian followers of Luigi Galleani (called Galleanists), were engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign against officials who opposed radicalism or immigration. Although Galleani, who openly advocated terrorism and murder, had been deported earlier this year, his remaining followers continued their work protected by the often impenetrable Italian immigrant community.

Detectives went to the home of Ferruccio Coacci, a local anarchist organizer who had been an employee of the two factories that were robbed. Although Coacci was not at home, the police encountered Mario Buda. Buda was another Italian anarchist who would later become the prime suspect in the ongoing anarchist bombing campaign throughout the country. Buda reported that Coacci had a gun, although it was never recovered. A maker’s schematic of a 1907 Savage was found in Coacci’s kitchen.

Buda gave a false name to the police and told them he was a food seller, even though he was a smuggler at the time. Buda’s car was stored nearby in a repair shop, after a few months of not running. Detectives suspected it had been used as a getaway vehicle for a previous robbery. Buda fled the city shortly after meeting with the police and left the car at the store. Police asked the mechanic to alert them if anyone tried to take the vehicle.

A few months later, Buda returned to the shop with Ricardo Orciani, another Italian anarchist, and Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, whom Buda described as his best friends. They were all followers of Luigi Galleani who had met at various anti-war protests and strikes in previous years. They had recently fled together to Mexico to avoid being drafted into World War I and to prepare for a communist revolution. in Italy that never arrived.

The mechanic, thinking quickly, convinced Buda that he shouldn’t pick up the car until Buda had obtained new license plates. Suspecting a trap, Buda and Orciani left on a motorcycle while Sacco and Vanzetti walked to a nearby cart, where they were intercepted by local police. The men were searched. Sacco and Vanzetti claimed to be unarmed, but were later found to be carrying concealed handguns and ammunition.


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