New Plaques in Detroit Commemorate Vincent Chin Case

A few days before Christmas, the Michigan State Bar and the city of Ferndale installed two plaques commemorating the case of the killing of Vincent Chin and the campaign that resulted. The State Bar's Legal Milestone Plaque, “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry,” recognizes the legal changes that have come about because of the Vincent Chin case. These includes such practices as minimum sentencing guidelines, victim’s impact statements, and the importance of sentencing hearings. Craig Covey, the Mayor of Ferndale, installed an second Vincent Chin memorial plaque from the city. This plaque, alongside the other, recognizes the struggles for equality throughout American history by “almost every group that has made this place home.” The plaques were installed at the median at 22828 Woodward at the intersection of Nine Mile Road across the street from the Golden Star Restaurant where Vincent Chin campaign organizing committee, American Citizens for Justice, met. The Golden Star Restaurant is now the Post Bar. 

 
The 1982 case of Vincent Chin is well known to people familiar with Asian American history. Two auto workers beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat because they blamed the Japanese and by a racist logic Asian American persons for the decline of the auto industry. The workers were convicted but only fined but never served any jail time. The case catlyzed a local and then national campaign for justice resulting in federal civil rights charges against the workers.
 
Representatives of the legal community, former members of the local organizing campaign such as James Shimoura, Gary Koivu, who was with Chin the night his attackers beat him, spoke. Other supporters incluing the nurse-on-duty at the hospital that night, attended. 
 
The plaques characterize the case as "the birth of the Asian American civil rights movement." This is arguable, but it clearly was a very signficant case and campaign in our community's drive for equal rights.