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The Model Minority Awakened
The Murder of Vincent Chin - Part 2

Written by Christine Ho


IN CONTINUING THEIR EFFORTS IN MEDIA COVERAGE, the ACJ started utilizing the media to educate the public on the atrocity of Vincent Chin. The papers started quoting outraged members of the Asian community. "You can kill a dog and get 30 days in jail, 90 days for a traffic ticket. This was premeditated. They had to go to their car to get the baseball bat. The Chinese community, especially the younger generation, want to see justice done." This quote was from Henry Yee, a restaurant owner in the city's Chinatown area. Vikki Wong, Chin's fiancée, was quoted as saying, "How can you commit murder and get away with nothing? I never committed a crime in my life. Does that mean I could kill and get away with it?" "The sentences amount to a $3,000 license to commit murder provided that you have a steady job or if you are a student," according to Kin Yee. Amid all the uproar, Kauffman eventually said, "In all my years, I have never received such vilification. This was just another case. This kind of thing happens regularly in the Recorder's Court and here [in court]." As soon as the Asian community heard of these sentences, they rallied together against the sentences resulting in even Judge Kauffman feeling the pressure from the media and the public.

Article  References   
Additional Information

"Two Face Probation For Beating Man to Death." (March 18, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2000, from Lexis Nexis from the World Wide Web

Ibid.

"Judge Stunned by Outcry Over Chin Case." (May 11, 1983) Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis from the World Wide Web

Ibid.

"Judge, FBI to Review Beating Death." (April 30, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis from the World Wide Web

ASIDE FROM EFFECTIVELY using the media to educate the community, the ACJ also organized many rallies. Due to their press coverage, rallies were of utmost important in the Vincent Chin case. The protests were effective in educating the public through its ample media exposure and its ability to pressure government officials to take notice of the incident. The politics of this case were paramount in getting it prosecuted by the U. S. Justice Department. On April 29, 1983, at a hearing on a resentencing request, the ACJ held an informational picket outside the main entrance of the Detroit City-County Building. This picket would be the first of many organized by the ACJ. At the hearing, Judge Kauffman announced that he would complete his opinion on the matter of resentencing within three weeks. Over 100 protestors continued to picket after the hearing. This picket would only be the beginning of the ACJ's efforts for justice.

ON MAY 9, 1983, "a multi-racial crowd of about 350 people rallied in downtown Detroit" and demanded that a circuit court judge review probationary sentences imposed on two men for the baseball bat slaying of a Chinese American last year." The ACJ organized this rally to show the support of the community in getting tougher sentences for Ebens and Nitz. Carl Sayers, an Episcopal priest, delivered the opening prayer to the hour-long rally saying, "It was a very clear miscarriage of justice. I am here because I want them to know that churches are with them." Following his opening speech more than a dozen speakers also spoke on behalf of Vincent Chin. A petition was then handed to a member of Judge Kauffman's staff at the Wayne County courthouse. This initial rally would be the first of many the ACJ would organize during the incident of Vincent Chin.

AFTER JUDGE KAUFFMAN DECIDED NOT TO resentence Ebens and Nitz, the ACJ further went into action. It started to coordinate its efforts with groups outside of Detroit. The ACJ declared June 19-23 as "Days of Remembrance" for Vincent Chin and asked the Detroit City Council to approve a citywide declaration in Chin's memory. Across the nation in San Francisco, a rally in Portsmouth Square in Chinatown was held to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Chin's death. "More than 20 Asian American churches throughout the San Francisco Bay Area held memorial services Sunday in observance of Chin's death."

Article  References   
Additional Information

Unnamed article. (April 29, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Ibid.

Ibid.

"National News Briefs." (June 13, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Unnamed article. (June 20, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Ibid.

Unnamed article. (June 19, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

"National News Briefs." (July 14, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

"FBI ordered to investigate beating death." (July 13, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Fox, David. (June 4, 1984). "Two Stand Trial In Chinese-American Man's Beating Death." Domestic News. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Unnamed article. (Aug. 15, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

"Grand Jury Convenes in Chin Case." (Sept. 7, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 20, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

"FBI ordered to investigate beating death." (July 13, 1983). Wire Service. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2000, from Lexis-Nexis

Ibid.

Daniels, Roger. Asian America: Chinese and Japanese in the United States since 1850. University of Washington Press: Seattle, 1988, p. 343.

Asian Americans for Justice and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance were instrumental in this rally. Harold Fong, president of the local chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance was quoted, "If the roles were reversed, and the victims were white and the murderers were Asian, I ask you, would the punishments be the same?" This quote was all over the papers and undoubtedly influential at rallying Asian communities to the cause of Vincent Chin. In Los Angeles, "about 300 Asian Americans were joined by Mayor Tom Bradley at a City Hall rally "to demand justice for Chin." Branching out, the ACJ coordinated efforts nationally to have rallies to remember the death of Vincent Chin.

"AMERICAN CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE, a Detroit-based civil rights organization, is seeking nation-wide support…" The ACJ started to mobilize Asian communities across the nation in support of achieving "Justice for Vincent Chin." In July 1983, the ACJ started a tour of California to seek support. Lily Chin, Vincent's mother and sole survivor, also spoke on the tour. The tour was co-sponsored by the Southern California Justice for Vincent Chin Committee in Los Angeles and Asian Americans for Justice in San Francisco. As the grieving mother, Lily Chin was instrumental in drumming up sympathy for the Vincent Chin case, and the ACJ utilized her appeal as a part of their media strategy. In 1984, the Asian Law Caucus gave her an award for her efforts and later, she met with Reverend Jesse Jackson and other community leaders to help raise money for the case. A benefit in memory of Chin was also held on August 14, 1983, which drew more than 200 people with each paying $25 each. As the umbrella organization in charge of fundraising, the ACJ raised between $50,000 and $75,000 to help finance litigation by September 1983.

ASIDE FROM ITS EDUCATION CAMPAIGN through the use of the media and protests, the ACJ started to look to the legislative and executive branches in light of the Vincent Chin incident. Representatives from the ACJ spoke at the founding session of the Asian-Pacific Caucus of the Democratic National Committee in Detroit to discuss the implications of the Chin case for people of Asian descent. The ACJ also called on "members of Congress and Democratic presidential candidates to use their influence against racially suggestive campaigns directed toward Asian imports." Increasing Asian sentiment had risen at this time due to the imports of Japanese cars and the low in the U. S. economy. Representative John D. Dingell from Michigan had recently complained about American jobs being taken by "those little yellow people." Michigan Senator Donald W. Reigel, Jr. also linked auto import problems with the invasion of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. This appeal to those in elected offices was made to directly confront these Michigan representatives and to call attention to Ebens' blaming Japan and Chin for the layoffs of the Detroit auto industry. This strategy of turning to elected officials would later become important in hate crime legislation.



Click HERE to go to Part 3
HERE for Part 4, HERE for Part 5 and HERE for Part 1


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