The Framing of Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti

Directed by Peter Miller (2006)

Film Review

This film, featuring radical historians Howard Zinn and Studds Terkel, concerns the 1920 framing of Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti for a murder they didn’t commit,

Sacco and Vanzetti begins by exploring the appalling working conditions most US immigrants faced  in the early 20th century. These desperate conditions drew many European immigrants into an anarchist movement seeking to overthrow capitalism.

The most interesting part of the documentary is the trial, in which jurors clearly convicted Sacco and Vanzetti because they were immigrants and anarchists. The prosecution, aware the two men were innocent of murder, deliberately fabricated evidence against them.

Convicted of murder in connection with an armed robbery, they spent seven years unsuccessfully appealing the verdict. The third and final appeal (which went all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court) was based on a confession by a man belonging to the gang that had staged the robbery. During the entire seven years there were massive protests across the US, Europe, Japan, China and Africa demanding their release.

The city of Boston declared martial law the day they were executed – fearful the entire city would riot.

Although the film can’t be embedded, it can be viewed free at the following link:

Sacco and Vanzetti (2006 – Peter Miller)

 

The Police War Against Move

Move: Confrontation In Philadelphia

Directed by Karen Pomer and Jane Mancini (1980) and Ben Gerry and Ryan McKenna (2004)

Film Review

This documentary is the most comprehensive I’ve seen on the African American group Move and the brutal campaign against them by the FBI and Philadelphia police. This would culminate in a police helicopter dropping a bomb on them in 1985. The resulting fire destroyed 61 homes adjacent homes. This documentary an amalgamation of a film Karen Pomer and Jane Mancini produced in 1980 and one Ben Gerry and Ryan McKenna put out in 2004.

Narrated by the late Howard Zinn, it begins by exploring Move’s philosophical beliefs, which led them to opt out of the capitalist white supremacist political/economic system by growing their own food and living in a nonviolent way that honored all the life.

The home the police bombed in 1985 wasn’t the first destroyed by the Philadelphia police. The first police assault against Move (in 1978) followed a long period of police brutality that caused two pregnant Move members to miscarry and the death (by blunt force trauma) of a Move infant.

The police allegedly laid siege, with tear gas, water canons and live ammunition, to Move’s first residence after neighborhood complaints of excessive noise, compost smells and stray animals. One cop died of gunshot wounds during this first assault. Nine Move members were charged with his murder, despite the absence of a weapon linked to the group (the police bulldozed the home before any forensic evidence could be collected).* All nine were convicted of third degree murder and conspiracy and sentenced to 30-100 years in prison.

Allegedly the second police siege, on May 13, 1985, also resulted from neighbor complaints. Although several Move members tried to escape the fire, were driven back into the flames by police gunfire. Eleven members, including five children, died. The sole surviving adult member, Ramona Africa, was arrested and served a seven-year sentence for inciting a riot.


*Several reporters and sources within the Philadelphia police department assert the shots killing Officer Ramp came from behind, ie he was killed by a fellow cop.

 

The video can’t be embedded for copyright reasons but can be seen free at the following link:

Move – Confrontation in Philadelphia (1980 – Karen Pomer – Jane Mancini)