Detroit man called a ‘Jap’, attacked, dies days before his wedding

No, that didn’t happen this week.  It happened 25 years ago this month to Vincent Chin.

On June 19, 1982, Vincent Chin a 27 year-old Chinese American went to a Detroit bar with three friends to celebrate his upcoming wedding. There, two white auto workers, Ronald Ebens and his step-son, Michael Nitz taunted him, reportedly calling him, a “Jap”. Ebens complained: “It’s because of you, motherfuckers, that we’re out of work!” When the fist fight broke out the manager evicted all of them.

Once outside Ebens and Nitz went to their car, took out a baseball bat from the trunk, and approached Chin and his companions who were waiting in the parking lot to be picked up by another friend.

Chin and his friends started running. They were chased and hunted by Ebens and Nitz. They finally trapped Chin in front of a McDonald’s restaurant where Nitz held their prey while Ebens bludgeoned him with a baseball bat.

Before he lost consciousness, Chin said to a friend: “It isn’t fair.”

Four days later he died from severe head injuries. Several hundred people, originally invited to Chin’s wedding, attended instead his funeral.

Ebens and Nitz, who thought Chin was of Japanese ancestry, both pleaded guilty for killing Chin and were sentenced to three years probation and a fine of $3,780.

Ebens and Nitz never served a jail sentence for killing a man who was nine days away from his wedding.

The race-based murder against Vincent Chin sparked the modern Asian American activist movement.

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (apaforprogress.org) is sponsoring events throughout the country marking the 25th anniversary of the brutal murder of Vincent Chin.  These events will include screenings of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”, panels on hate crimes and receptions.

Events are scheduled from June 19-30 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, Portland, Grand Rapids and other cities. Receptions in NYC, SF and LA are sponsored by Imaginasian TV. Asianweek is a media sponsor.

Visit apaforprogress.org for event details and vincentchin.net for more information on the Chin murder. Please feel free to suggest resources that can be added to the site.

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