40 years ago, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz bludgeoned Vincent Chin to death a few days before his wedding day. Ebens and Nitz received no jail time for the murder. A coalition of civil rights groups and Detroit city officials have announced plans for a four-day commemoration for Chin’s murder, to be held in Detroit.
Starting June 16, the commemoration will include a national conversation related to democracy, racial justice and Asian American culture. It will include two nights of performances and a commemorative film series. Murals have also been commissioned featuring Chin in Chinatown, according to WXYZ Detroit.
The Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance & Rededication also plans to emphasize the significant role of Detroit. Chin was murdered in Highland Park, and the lack of consequences for his murderers incited many in Detroit, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan who followed the case closely during his time in law school.
“It was a deep lesson to everybody — something we’re still learning to this day — that our criminal justice system behaves differently depending on the color of your skin,” Duggan said.
Duggan was joined by Chinese American journalist Helen Zia and other leaders of civil rights organizations in a gathering for Chin on Monday, at Detroit’s Chinatown.
“That was the springboard for the modern Asian American civil rights movement,” Zia said. “Detroit was its epicenter.”
With the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, State Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, stated that it is essential to remember Chin and the work that has to be done.
At the time Chin was murdered, resentments reigned in Detroit against Japanese auto industries outpacing American industries and putting people out of work, according to the Detroit Free Press. Nitz and Eben were among those resentful and blamed Chin who they assumed was Japanese.
The COVID-19 pandemic fueled more resentment against Asian Americans. Around 6,300 anti-Asian hate crimes occurred in 2021, Fox2Detroit reports.
“We cannot talk about hate crimes and senseless killings today without talking about Vincent Chin,” Rebeka Islam, of the Vincent Chin 40th Committee, said.
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