Carlo Tresca pp 183-194 | Cite as

A Year of Violence and Death

  • Nunzio Pernicone
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


The year 1927 was one of the most tumultuous and wrenching years in Tresca’s long career. Direct action by anti-Fascists, sometimes amounting to guerrilla war, had become a more frequent method of struggle, as the Blackshirts grew bolder and more numerous in New York and the surrounding metropolitan area. Typically, Blackshirts of a newly organized fasci? in Port Chester planned to demonstrate their mettle by breaking up a meeting at which Tresca and Vidali were scheduled to speak on March 20. They dared not act, however, until the arrival of reinforcements from New York led by Giacomo Bonavita, the “little Duce of the squads.” At the first Fascist disruption, Tresca positioned himself in the center of the Blackshirts, an act of defiance that left them befuddled. A second interruption almost precipitated a fight, but was forestalled again by Tresca, who confronted Bonavita face to face. The Blackshirt leader immediately offered a truce:“ ‘You restrain yours, and I will restrain mine.’ ” Tresca shoved the Blackshirt back into his seat with a warning: “We will see to it that they [the Blackshirts] stay quiet.”1 Thwarted, Bonavita and his followers quit the hall and phoned the police to report that the anti-Fascists in the hall were “armed to the teeth.” The police arrived but found only one anti-Fascist armed with a pistol.


Defense Attorney District Attorney General Strike American Legion Defense Committee 
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  1. 21.
    For a detailed treatment of the Greco—Carrillo case, see Nunzio Pernicone, “Murder Under the ‘El’: The Greco—Carrillo Case;” The Italian American Revie? 6, 2 (autumn/winter 1997–1998): 20–44.Google Scholar
  2. 34.
    Norman Thomas, “The Reminiscences of Norman Thomas,” 1950, Columbia University Oral History Collection, 84–85; Il Nuovo Mond?, December 11, 1927; Il Martell?, December 10, 1927; Robert Morss Lovett, All Our Year? ( New York: Viking Press, 1948 ), 191.Google Scholar
  3. 38.
    Interview with Peter Martin, New York, December 11, 1973; Harry Fleischman, Norman Thoma? (New York: Norton & Co., 1964), 110. Another version has Thomas making the phone call and hesitating when Darrow asked for the enormous fee. Tresca then shoved him in the back and ordered him to say yes.Google Scholar
  4. See Kevin Tierney, Darrow: A Biograph? ( New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979 ), 388.Google Scholar
  5. 52.
    Clarence Darrow, The Story of My Lif? ( New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932 ), 312.Google Scholar

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© Nunzio Pernicone 2005

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  • Nunzio Pernicone

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