This week I continue my documentary series with one of my favorite documentary films, Who Killed Vincent Chin? 30 years ago (June 23rd, 1982), Vincent Chin was killed in Highland Park, Michigan close to Detroit by two men, Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz outside of a McDonalds restaurant.
Vincent Chin was killed during a rough time in Detroit, especially in the auto industry when a lot of manufacturing jobs were being lost to Japan and their rising auto industry. In the Detroit area there was hatred towards Japan and Japanese people and unfortunately Vincent Chin was a victim of that hatred and he lost his life.
The sad thing is that Vincent Chin was not Japanese but Chinese and got into an argument with Ebens (a superintendent at Chrysler during that time) at a strip club where Chin was having his bachelor party. Ebens was quoted as saying “It’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work,” talking about the jobs that were being lost.
Chin left the strip club and Ebens and his stepson searched for Chin and found him at McDonald’s where the duo beat Chin with a baseball bat multiple times leaving him in a coma before he ultimately died. Ebens and Nitz never really served time for the murder, Ebens was originally convicted to 25 years in prison but was overturned.
I watched this film almost two years ago in my Asian representation class at DePaul and this film has been one of my favorites and I was so intrigued by the way the story was told from different perspectives. From looking at the auto industry in Detroit, the incident that took place, and even the perspective of Chin’s family and friends, Ebens family and friends, and how the incident effected the Asian community.
I encourage you all to find this documentary (it’s really hard to find) and check it out because it’s a very good documentary. In the meantime, you can check out another documentary about Vincent Chin called Vincent Who? This one was made in 2009 and directed by Chris Chin (no relation) and looks back the 1982 incident and he even interviews about 80 Asian Americans to see if they ever heard of Vincent Chin.