Severe poverty in the post-war years meant that many workers were dissatisfied with the status quo. The authorities were terrified that workers might follow the example of the Russian Revolution, and were doing everything in their power to portray communism and anarchism as ‚un-American‘, and to frighten workers way from ‚red‘ propaganda.
Sacco and Vanzetti, along with other comrades, immediately called a public meeting in Boston to protest. While out building support for this meeting they were arrested on suspicion of „dangerous radical activities“. They soon found themselves charged with a payroll robbery which had taken place the previous April in which 2 security guards had been killed.
The judge in the case, Judge Webster Thayer, said of Vanzetti: „This man, although he may not have actually committed the crime attributed to him, is nevertheless morally culpable, because he is the enemy of our existing institutions.“ The foreman of the jury, a retired policeman, said in response to a friend of his who ventured the opinion that Sacco and Vanzetti might be innocent „Damn them. They ought to hang anyway.“