Murder of Vincent Chin Spurs Movement

1982

United States

Activism & Resistance Discrimination & Inequity Race & Ethnicity

In June of 1982, the violent murder of Vincent Chin became a symbol for the Asian American community and the Pan-Asian American movement. A son of Chinese immigrants, Vincent Chin was killed by Ronald Eben and Michael Nitz, two autoworkers, in Detroit, Michigan. An argument fueled with racial slurs erupted between the three men while Chin was out celebrating his bachelor party. Eben and Nitz blamed the Japanese auto industry for the economic crash of Detroit. Later that evening, the two men went out in search of Chin and violently killed him.

Despite the severity of the case and the fact that neither Eben nor Nitz denied committing the act, the two men were only sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine. This verdict shocked Detroit and the nation at large, spurring protests across the country and the fueling a Asian American activism. Immigrants and their descendants from many countries across the Asian continent came together to challenge the shared experiences of racism and discrimination.