Detroiters remember Vincent Chin, Chinese man beaten to death during racially motivated attack in 1982

Detroiters are rallying in remembrance of Vincent Chin, a Chinese man who was beaten to death almost 40 years ago.

Chin was killed June 19, 1982, during a racially motivated attack in Highland Park.

"We cannot talk about hate crimes and senseless killings today without talking about Vincent Chin," said Rebeka Islam, of the Vincent Chin 40th Committee, during a gathering at the intersection of Peterboro and Cass.

Two white autoworkers attacked Chin with a baseball bat outside a bar.

Prosecutors said the men believed the rising Japanese auto industry stole American jobs. Neither man served prison time, which sparked a flashpoint to end hate against Asian Americans.

"We know that Vincent Chin’s death was fueled by anti-Asian hate, and that is what is so rampant today, but Vincent Chin’s legacy was so much more than that," said Helen Zia, with American Citizens for Justice.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan followed the case when he was in law school. 

"It was a deep lesson to everybody — something we’re still learning to this day — that our criminal justice system behaves differently depending on the color of your skin," he said.

The pandemic sparked a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes nationally. More 4,600 hate incidents happened in 2020. Nearly 6,300 happened in 2021.

Half of the almost 11,000 incidents happened in public spaces — most were in public streets.

Community leaders hope by remembering Vincent Chin, Detroit can once again lead the way in the movement against anti-Asian hate. 

"To me, it’s so clear that my daughters and everyone else’s deserve to learn all of our history," said Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang. "To see the kind of role they deserve."