Vincent Chin

19 June 2019
“Justice for Vincent Chin!” events flyer, Courtesy of Renee Tajima-Pena, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) collection
“为陈果仁伸张正义”活动传单,Renee Tajima-Pena捐赠,美国华人博物馆(MOCA)馆藏

On this day in 1982, Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American draftsman, was beaten into a coma in the Highland Park suburb of Detroit by two white autoworkers. Ronald Ebens and his step-son Michael Nitz, who mistook Chin as Japanese and blamed him for the loss of their jobs, assailed Chin with racial epithets at the bar where he had been having his bachelor party. The verbal altercation ended when the three were thrown out, but the enraged Ebens and Nitz searched for Chin until they found him at a nearby McDonald’s. It was there that Ebens and Nitz bludgeoned Chin with a baseball bat. The comatose Chin died from his injuries four days later.

Ebens and Nitz were arrested by two off duty police officers who witnessed the crime, but through a plea bargain were able to reduce their charges from second-degree murder to manslaughter. They pled guilty to Chin’s murder, but denied any racial motivation. They served no jail time, receiving just three years probation and a fine of $3,000. This outrageous verdict galvanized the Asian American community to call for stronger federal hate crime legislation and served as a critical turning point in Asian American Civil rights engagement.

In 1984, a federal civil rights case was brought against Ebens and Nitz, but even though Ebens was initially found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison, in 1987 he was cleared of all charges after a retrial. Ebens and Nitz lost a civil suit and were ordered to respectively pay $1.5 million and $50,000 to Chin’s family. Still, the judicial system’s failure to seek justice for Vincent Chin’s murder echoes today in the continuous violence perpetrated against marginalized communities that goes unpunished.

在1982年的这一天,27岁的华裔美国绘图员陈果仁(Vincent Chin)被两名白人汽车工人在底特律郊区的高地公园(Highland Park)殴打至昏迷。罗纳德·艾本斯(Ronald Ebens)和他的继子迈克尔·尼茨(Michael Nitz)误以为陈果仁是日本人,责备陈使他们失去工作,在他参加单身派对的酒吧里用种族绰号侮辱他。当三人被赶出时,口头争吵结束了,但被激怒的Ebens和Nitz在寻找陈果仁,直到他们在附近的麦当劳找到他。就在那里,Ebens和Nitz使用棒球棒重击陈果仁。四天后,昏迷的陈果仁因伤不治。


1984年,联邦民权案件将矛头指向Ebens和Nitz,但即使Ebens最初被判有罪并被判处25年监禁,1987年他在重审后被清除了所有指控。 Ebens和Nitzlost只是输了一起民事诉讼,被命令分别向陈果仁的家人支付150万美元和5万美元的赔偿。尽管如此,司法系统未能为陈果仁的谋杀事件寻求正义,这与当今针对边缘化社区的持续暴力行为不受惩罚遥相呼应。

Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

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