by Robert Tanzilo
The History Press
On a chilly day in September, the patriotic, pro-Protestant preaching of an Italian immigrant pastor, August Giuliani, ignited a riot in Milwaukee's small Italian enclave of Bay View that injured two policemen and killed two rioters. Two months later, someone placed a bomb in Giuliani's Third Ward church in an apparent act of retaliation, and a parishioner carried the explosive to Central Police Station, where it detonated, killing nine policemen and a civilian. Within a week, the trial of the Bay View Italians began in a city inflamed with fear, distrust and vengeance. The national buzz attracted big names to the case, including attorney Clarence Darrow and radical heroine Emma Goldman. Join Robert Tanzilo as he carefully navigates the minefield of racial, political and religious tension that tore apart Milwaukee's Italian community in 1917.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Robert Tanzilo lives in Milwaukee. He earned a BA in mass communication (journalism) at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and is managing editor of OnMilwaukee.com. His writing has appeared in Italian Americana, Il Monferrato, Chicago Tribune, Playbill, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and numerous other publications. In 2005, he was awarded the Premio Giornalismo: Piemontesi Nel Mondo by the city of Asti and has won the Massaro History Prize from the scholarly journal Italian Americana. He has published three books in Italy, Milwaukee 1917: Uno scontro tra Italo-Americani (Editoriale Umbra, 2006), L'ombra dla me ca/The Shadow of My Home: Documents of the Fubinese Emigration (Edizioni dell'Orso bilingual edition, 2008) and Voci Piemontesi/Piemontesi Voices: Stories of Piemontesi Emigration to the United States (Edizioni dell'Orso bilingual edition, 2009). He also contributed a chapter to the forthcoming Monferrato: Splendido Patrimonio, to be published in autumn 2010 by Lorenzo Fornaca Editore. He also maintains Monferrini.com, a website celebrating the Monferrato area of Italy's Piedmont region. In 2007, he produced Reis Monfrin-e, a CD of poetry and music from the Monferrato. Tanzilo is currently writing a memoir of his family's emigration from Italy to the United States.