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Vincent Chin

Vincent Chin (陳果仁) (1955 - June 19, 1982) was a Chinese American industrial draftsman killed in 1982 in suburban Detroit, Michigan by two white autoworkers - Chrysler plant superintendent Ronald Ebens and his recently laid off step-son, Michael Nitz. The murder was controversial because of Ebens mistaking Chin as Japanese, and instigated the incident by declaring, "It's because of you little motherfuckers that we're out of work," referring to U.S. auto manufacturing jobs being lost to Japan.

Raised in Detroit, Chin was the adopted son and the only child of Bing Hing Chin (陳炳興) and Lily Chin (陳余瓊芳). more pre-June 1982 background needed

On the night of June 19, 1982, a fight among them ensued at the strip club where Chin was having his bachelor party. The group was thrown out and after a heated exchange of words subsequently parted ways. Ebens and Nitz searched the neighborhood for 20 to 30 minutes before finding Chin at a fast food restaurant. Chin tried to escape, but was held by Nitz while Ebens attacked Chin with a baseball bat. Chin was struck at least four times with the bat, including blows to the head. When rushed to the hospital, he was brain-dead and died after four days in a coma.

Ebens and Nitz were convicted in a county court for manslaughter, after a plea bargain brought the chagres down from second degree murder. They were given light punishment -- three years probation and a $3,000 fine. Many considered it unfair justice.

In 1983, journalist Helen Zia and lawyer Lisa Chan led the fight for federal charges against the two. A 1984 federal civil rights case against the men found Ebens guilty and setenced him to 25 years in prison; Nitz was acquitted. After an appeal, Ebens' conviction was overturned on a legal technicality in 1986 -- a federal appeals court found an attorney improperly coached prosecution witnesses. After a retrial in 1987, Ebens was cleared of the charges by a jury in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Later, a civil suit against Ebens was settled out of court for US $1.5 million, which would be paid to Chin's estate over time.

The case of Vincent Chin became a rallying point for the Asian Pacific American community, which had never before acted as a unified group in the United States.

He was the subject of an 1989 Academy-award nominated documentary by Christine Choy called, "Who Killed Vincent Chin?"

In September of 1987, not wanting to be reminded of her son's tragedy, Vincent Chin's mother, Lily Chin, moved from Oak Park, Michigan back to China where she grew up. She died on June 9, 2002.

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