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Murder trial in Massachusetts (1920–27). After the robbery and murder of a paymaster and a guard at a shoe factory (1920), police arrested the Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco (1891–1927), a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1888–1927), a fish peddler. They were tried and found guilty. Radicals and socialists protested the men's innocence, and many others felt they had been convicted for their anarchist beliefs. In 1925 a convicted murderer confessed to participating in the crime, but attempts to obtain a retrial failed and Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in 1927. Protest meetings were held throughout the U.S. Gov. Alvin Fuller appointed an advisory panel, which agreed with his refusal to grant clemency, and the men were executed. They became martyrs to radicals' belief that the legal system was biased. Though opinion remained divided on the men's guilt, most agreed that a retrial was warranted. In 1977 Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation stating that Sacco and Vanzetti had not been treated justly and that no stigma should be associated with their names.
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