Vincent Chin was a 27-year-old draftsman living near Detroit. On a June night in 1982, he and a group of friends went out to celebrate his wedding, which was just few days away.
At a bar he crossed paths with Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, two auto workers angry about recent layoffs, which were widely blamed on Japanese imports. That encounter lead to Vincent’s death.
Gary Koivu was with Vincent that night, and he recently came to StoryCorps with his wife, Kim, to remember his childhood friend.
The federal case against Vincent Chin’s killers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, marked the first time the Civil Rights Act was used to prosecute a crime against an Asian American person. It sparked a rallying cry for stronger federal hate crime legislation.
For more information about the case, check out the 1989 POV documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin.”
Originally aired June 23, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Bottom Photo: An undated photo of Vincent Chin. Courtesy of American Citizens for Justice/Asian American Center for Justice.