Strike Leaders Arrested

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Postcard of Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti.

On January 29, the militia cornered a large group of marchers at the corner of Union and Garden streets. After some pushing and shoving a shot rang out; Annie LoPizzo, a 34-year-old striker, lay dead in the street. Witnesses charged that the bullet was fired by police officer Oscar Benoit, but he and others insisted someone specifically targeting LoPizzo fired the shot from behind the police. Two important strike leaders—Arturo Giovannitti and Joseph Ettor—were arrested for murder conspiracy in her death. Striker Joseph Caruso was arrested in April and charged with the murder. The three remained in jail without bail until the end of November 1912. When their trial began in September 1912 in Salem, MA, before Judge Joseph F. Quinn, the three defendants were kept in metal cages in the court room.

Big Bill Haywood threatened a general strike to demand their freedom, with the cry “Open the jail gates or we will close the mill gates.” The IWW raised $60,000 for their defense and held demonstrations and mass meetings throughout the country in their support. At one point Boston law enforcement arrested all of the members of the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense Committee.

Fifteen thousand Lawrence workers went on a one-day strike on September 30, 1912, to demand the accused men be released. Swedish and French workers proposed a boycott of woolen goods from the US; Italian supporters of Giovannitti rallied in front of the U.S. consulate in Rome.

All three defendants were acquitted on November 26, 1912.