Margaret Sanger, "Ettor and Giovannitti Trial," 20 May 1912.

Source: " New England Courts Victimize Workers, New York Call, May 20, 1912."


There was a trial going on in the courthouse at Salem, Mass. One Salvatore Bruno had been found with a revolver in his pocket one winter morning after a riot between policemen and several women who were doing picket duty during the textile strike at Lawrence.

A policeman testified that eight Italian women were bent on going toward the mills; they were ordered back, and as he touched one of them gently on the shoulder she sat down on the sidewalk and began to scream. All the women began to scream, he continued, then shots were fired from windows. Bruno, who was across the street, was accused of shooting at the policemen.

Bruno, on the other hand, claimed he heard the screams of the women and saw the policemen clubbing them "lika hell." Becoming greatly excited and hoping to scatter the crowd he shot in the air three times. He did not run away, and of course was arrested. But not before he had been thrown down and kicked in the face and the body. As a result of the beating Bruno showed five scars on his head, his eyes had been closed for two weeks and he was under the care of two surgeons. The police argued that finding the revolver on his person was sufficient proof that he intended to murder them. The only evidence against Bruno was the testimony of the police.

The jury brought in a verdict of guilty.

If ever there was a travesty on justice it was there. There sat a judicial monster, who by his position had a strangle-hold on thousands of textile workers and from whose decision there is no appeal.

Socialists of New England can well ponder over these facts, for they have in their midst as mean a rodent of the law as ever sat under the canopy of the so-called Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

His very evident bias in charging the jury spelled a conviction for Bruno before the talesmen adjourned to deliberate.

We are loud in our protest against the man who runs amuck with dynamite, but what about this irresponsible tool who runs amuck every day through the law and the State? It is on every tongue that he is the servile tool for the mill owners, and like the ostrich, hides his head in the sand of patriotism.

But is this not typical of New England? Massachusetts has exploited its mill workers for generations. She has allowed colossal fortunes to be built up from the sweat and blood of the workers. But when cornered patriotism is her last resort. Scratch beneath skin of the patriot and you find the blood of the exploiter. Salem is the place where witches were once burned at the stake. Salem is just as bigoted now as in the days of witchcraft, only the "foreigners" are its victims today. But New England is seething with revolt.

And now will come the trial of Ettor and Giovannitti. Will they be handed a dose of the same justice as was given to Bruno? Ettor is accused of having told the workers that there is a class struggle. Think of it. To inform the workers of such a fact. The District Attorney in his preliminary address at the Ettor and Giovannitti trial said in part that these "buzzards" come from other States to a peaceful community and sowed the seeds of discontent and declared that the commonwealth of Massachusetts would not tolerate foreigners bringing such ideas there.

I have it from reliable sources that Ettor and Giovannitti are no longer in the hands of the textile bosses alone but are the victims of a combined effort of the steel and coal barons, who are bent on stifling labor unrest in the East.

It is a crime to picket. It is a crime to express your class convictions. It will soon be a crime to have any ideas at all. The masters are closing in on us. They are making their laws more severe. Are you going to help us?

The Ettor-Giovannitti trial will mark an epoch in the onward march of the revolutionary movement. Conviction means a sure check on proletariat progress. They must be acquitted.

The workers of New England are ready to act. Will their brothers and sisters act with them? The textile slaves were deceived into going back on the promise that Ettor and Giovannitti would be freed. They know that if these men are convicted no worker is safe. They know that they fought one of the greatest battles in the history of labor, but they know also that the Lawrence strike is lost if Ettor and Giovannitti are convicted.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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