June 23, 1982 – Vincent Jen Chin (May 18, 1955 – June 23, 1982) was a Chinese American draftsman who was beaten to death in a racially motivated hate crime by two white men, Chrysler plant supervisor Ronald Ebens and his stepson, laid-off autoworker Michael Nitz.
They assailed Chin following a brawl that took place at a strip club in Highland Park, Michigan, where Chin had been celebrating his bachelor party with friends in advance of his upcoming wedding. They assumed Chin was of Japanese descent and witnesses described them using racial slurs as they attacked him.
Nitz held Chin while Ebens repeatedly bludgeoned Chin with a baseball bat until Chin’s head cracked open. A policeman who witnessed the beating said that Ebens was swinging the bat like he was swinging “for a home run.”
Ebens and Nitz blamed him for the success of Japan’s auto industry. Both were charged with second-degree murder, but bargained the charges down to manslaughter and pleaded guilty in 1983. They were ordered to pay $3,000 and serve three years’ probation, with no jail time.
Chin’s case has been cited by some Asian Americans in support of the idea that they are considered “perpetual foreigners” in contrast to “real” Americans who are considered full citizens.