Who is Vincent Chin?

Vincent Chin was born today, on May 18, 1955. He would be celebrating his 57th birthday today, except he was beaten to death in June 1982 in Highland Park, Michigan. His murderers were Chrysler plant superintendent Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, Ebens’s stepson.

On the night of June 19, 1982, Chin was celebrating his bachelor party at a strip club called Fancy Pants. During the party, Ebens and Chin began trading insults across the bar. Ebens yelled at Chin, “It’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work.” He was referencing US auto manufacturing jobs being lost to Japan; Nitz, in fact, had recently been laid off from an auto-plant. Chin was Chinese, not Japanese.

After both groups were thrown out of the bar, Ebens and Nitz searched the area for Chin, paying another man $20 to assist in their search. They found Chin twenty minutes later, in front of a McDonald’s. There, Nitz held Chin down while Ebens bludgeoned him in the head with a baseball bat.

Chin’s last words before slipping into a coma were, “It’s not fair.” On June 23, 1982, four days after the beating, and five days before his scheduled wedding, Chin died at Henry Ford Hospital.

Ebens and Nitz served no jail time. As Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Kaufman said, “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail… You don’t make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal.” Their punishment: Ebens and Nitz were given three years probation, fined $3,000, and ordered to pay $780 in court costs.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Remember Vincent Chin.

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2 Comments on “Who is Vincent Chin?”

  1. Jonathan H. says:

    Anthony K clued me into this great piece in the New York Times a few days ago about Vincent Chin.

  2. […] 8-paneled “Welcome to Chinatown” kiosk on the Cass-Peterboro corner, a mural commemorating the Vincent Chin murder 34 years ago, and signs in Chinese characters overlooking vacant storefronts on the south side of […]


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