Dates set for the event marking the 40th anniversary of Chin’s death

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) — This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, which took place in Highland Park on the eve of his bachelor party.

The incident played a significant role in driving the Asian American civil rights movement in Detroit over the years. That’s why, to keep the momentum going, a coalition of national and local groups announced plans for a four-day commemoration.

“We cannot talk about hate crimes and senseless killings without talking about Vincent Chin,” said Rebeka Islam, director of the 40th Vincent Chin Committee.

Politicians and Asian American community leaders shook hands May 2 in Detroit’s historic Chinatown to honor Chin’s life and legacy.

“It’s the perfect place to organize these movements and educate people and what does this mean for tomorrow,” said Rebeka Islam, director of the 40th Vincent Chin committee.

Chin’s Estate executor Helen Zia said the current climate of anti-Asian hatred spurred by COVID-19 has revived interest in the 1982 case.

“The horrific baseball bat murder of Vincent Chin on the eve of his bachelor party, and the miscarriage of justice that followed, and allowed his two white killers to be released without spending a single night in jail because the judge then said those weren’t the men you’re sending to a jail in Detroit,” said Helen Zia, executor of Lily and Vincent Chin.

The attackers were sentenced to three years probation and fined $3,000. Mayor Dugan says the case touched everyone and even brought about reforms to Michigan’s legal system.

“The court system changed, the way cases were handled afterwards and I think it’s good to remember the impact of how the Asian American community came together,” said said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

The 4-day commemoration will begin on June 16 and will feature a national conversation about democracy, racial justice and Asian American culture. It will also launch the Vincent Chin 40th commemorative film series as well as two nights of cultural and artistic performances. Murals were also commissioned for Old Chinatown.

“There’s so much rich history here in Michigan of Asian American activism that isn’t talked about much. But a movement has been born here that also needs to be respected and uplifted, and that could be something that brings give us more energy and enthusiasm for the fight that we must continue to fight,” said Michigan Senator Stephanie Chang.

Joseph K. Bennett