June 23, 2022
Today should have been Vincent Chin’s 40th wedding anniversary. Instead, it is the 40th anniversary of his death.
Chin, who was Chinese-American, had the misfortune of appearing to be Japanese in Detroit at a time when the Motor City’s auto industry was reeling from what it perceived to be unfair Japanese business practices. After a kerfuffle in a strip club where Chin was celebrating his bachelor party, some words were exchanged, including comments about Japanese car manufacturers putting U.S. workers on the unemployment line and two autoworkers beat Chin with a baseball bat. He lingered on life support for several days before dying.
Though they were originally charged with second-degree murder, the two assailants ended up working out a plea agreement: in exchange for their pleas of guilty to a charge of manslaughter, each was sentenced to probation and a fine. They were later charged in federal court with violating Chin’s rights; one of them was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but the conviction was overturned and he was acquitted on retrial.