This week marked the thirty-third anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death. In June of 1982, Chin was murdered by Ronald Ebens outside of a Michigan McDonalds.
Ebens’ stepson, Michael Nitz, was held Chin down as Ebens hit him in the head with a baseball bat, immediately putting Chin into a coma.
Chin died four days later at 27-years-old. He was supposed to be married later that week.
Ebens saw Chin as a representation of the decline in the Detroit automotive industry due to Japan’s rising power.
Chin was a Chinese-American.
The horrible crime sparked a countrywide civil rights movement for Asian-Americans and Chin’s friends and family wanted justice to be served.
However, if the crime wasn’t horrific enough, Ebens and Nitz didn’t even pay for what they’d done. After the attack, a biased Judge Charles Kaufman insisted that Ebens and Nitz “are not the kind of men you put in jail,” and simply gave them a fine and three years’ probation, when the judge could have easily given the attackers up to 15 years in prison.
Over thirty years later, even those original fines have not been paid. Initially totaling around $3,700, Ebens now owes millions of dollars to the Chins. He still refuses to pay the civil judgment award and it has only been growing due to interest accumulation.
Chin’s loved ones worry that too much time has gone by, and that the money may never be collected. They believe that if justice is never served, then Chin’s murderer will never have to accept responsibility for what he’s done.
After years of fighting for recognition, Helen Zia, executor of the Chin estate, expressed a somber truth. She said, “People forget. It’s been a long time…a whole generation has passed. It’s ancient history to them.”
But this week marks a time to remember. Even three decades after Vincent Chin was killed, hate crimes are still occurring across the country. It’s time to bring the discrimination and hatred to an end.