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Vincent Chin 40th death anniversary in Detroit – Civil rights matter


Forty years ago Chinese American, 27 year old Vincent Chin, was brutally assaulted and killed by two racist white men who assumed he was Japanese.  As Vincent walked out of a bar in Detroit the laid off auto workers picked up an argument and bludgeoned Vincent to death with a baseball bat. At that time the US auto industry was going through a major recession and the Japanese auto industry was blamed for it.  Ebens and Nitz pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1983, in a plea bargain from an initial charge of second-degree murder. While Ebens and Nitz never denied the brawl, they claimed the fight was not racially motivated and said they did not use racial epithets. The real tragedy was when the two killers Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz were sentence to only three years’ probation and a $3,000 fine. Justice clearly failed in this case, purely based on race. 

The lenient sentence led to an outcry from Asian Americans.  The tragedy was a critical lightening rod of Asian Americans to be more involved in civil rights efforts throughout the country thus paving the way for stronger federal hate crime legislation.

This incident underscores the need for our community members to be more engaged in community services and fight civil rights violations.  The tragedy of the US Government sponsored fake Farmington University sting operation is another example where unfair tactics were deployed to target helpless students.  A strong legal defense effort would have exposed the facts.

Here is a statement from the “Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance & Rededication” events that took place June 16-19, 2022 in Detroit:

“By joining our earliest activists with the newest generation of social justice warriors and peacemakers, these events served as a bridge from our past to our future. The Vincent Chin 40th garnered wide media coverage we received–from numerous local TV, radio and newspaper stories in Detroit, to national stories by the AP and the New York Times, just to name a few. You can view the media coverage here.

We are grateful for all who carry the torch for Vincent Chin’s legacy, equality and racial justice and we hope you emerged from these events energized and inspired. Check out highlights below and watch recordings of our livestreams. We also invite you to download and share The Vincent Chin Legacy Guide far and wide to educators across the country.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, The Kresge Foundation, all the sponsors, honorary co-chairs and committee members, community partners, volunteers and on-the-ground staff who made these events possible in-person and online. We invite you to stay connected as we continue our journey toward equal justice and solidarity against racism. “

Roland Hwang  |  Rebeka Islam  |  James Shimoura  |  Helen Zia
Executive Committee of the Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance & Rededication
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