June 16, 2022
This Sunday marks 40 years since the murder of Vincent Chin. We stand with our community as we remember the tragedy and recognize how much has yet to change.
On June 19, 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was brutally attacked in a racially motivated crime in Highland Park, Michigan by disgruntled auto-workers Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. After being in a coma for four days, he died of his injuries on June 23. After facing trial in county court, the assailants walked away without serving any time, receiving probation and a $3,000 fine. In response, AAPI activists, including Chin’s mother, Lily Chin, led a powerful movement that resulted in the federal government’s first hate crime prosecution involving an Asian American. Ultimately, however, the killers were cleared and the county-level verdict prevailed. For many AAPIs, this was a watershed moment and a turning point in the AAPI civil rights movement.
Forty years later, AAPIs are still viewed as a threat, dehumanized and targeted by racism every day. The injustice of Vincent Chin’s death was not then – and is not today – unusual. Our criminal legal system has a long history of failing to bring justice for communities of color. Just a year ago, after the horrific Atlanta spa shooting, the investigating officer — who had sold racist t-shirts about Chinese people on social media — put out the narrative that the murders were not racially motivated and that the white shooter had “a bad day.”
At the same time, as we did 40 years ago, the AAPI community has responded to the recent surge in anti-AAPI hate with strength, solidarity and engagement. We have held hundreds of rallies and activations around the country. We have fought for our voices to be heard and our experiences with injustice to be seen. We have proudly reflected our deep roots of activism and civic engagement in the United States. Just as Vincent Chin’s mother, Lily Chin, spoke out against the injustices inflicted on her son, herself and the broader community, we have stood for racial equity.
This is why we believe that the legacy of Vincent Chin is to urge investment in the Asian American community, rather than in unjust systems like law enforcement or our criminal legal system that have again and again failed to protect us or bring us justice. This moment calls for us to fight for long-lasting solutions to combat hate — including providing resources for AAPIs communities, protecting our civil rights and promoting educational equity.
This is also a moment to honor our own history of civil rights activism by continuing to commit to being part of the change, and ensuring that AAPI experiences are no longer sidelined or overlooked. We have built power — and continue to build power to advance equity and justice by dismantling systemic racism and building a multiracial movement to end anti-AAPI hate.
A four-day remembrance and rededication for Vincent Chin will be held in Detroit and virtually, June 16-19, 2022. You can sign up to attend at: https://www.vincentchin.org/.
Sign up to stay informed about the Stop AAPI Hate movement and take action for AAPI civil rights here.
The Stop AAPI Hate coalition continues to encourage any member of the AAPI community who has experienced hate during the pandemic to report the incident at: https://stopaapihate.org/reportincident/.