Updated: “Hate Crimes: 25 Years After Vincent Chin” Symposium on Saturday, July 21

SD Alliance for APIAs is hosting “Hate Crimes: 25 Years After Vincent Chin,” the final symposium in the National Townhalls on Hate Crimes, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress’s nationwide series of meetings on the 25th year after the killing of Vincent Chin.

Panelists include:
ERIC BYLER, filmmaker & activist
DAVID KAWAMOTO, Japanese American Citizens League
CHRISTOPHER TENORIO, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Civil Rights Coordinator
LELAND YEE, California State Senator, Chair of Select Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs

Symposium moderator:
LEE ANN KIM, Channel 10 News anchor/reporter

Saturday, July 21, 2007
9:30 am - 10:00 am Registration
10:00 am - 10:05 am Introduction, Linda Tu, Alliance president
10:05 am - 11:30 am Free screening of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (Oscar-nominated documentary)
11:30 am - 12:30 pm Panel discussion
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Reception

University of California, San Diego, Jacobs School of Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) Building, Room 1202

More details are available at www.sdaff.org.

Why Vincent Chin Still Matters

Angry Asian Man shares two articles published on June 19 in the Detroit Free Press and The Daily Texan.

From the Free Press article by Catherine Ho:

The Chin killing remains a touchstone for the Asian-American community in both Michigan and across the nation, binding previously scattered communities of Chinese-, Japanese-, Korean- and Filipino-Americans to advocate against racial discrimination and hate crimes.

“It brought together Asian Americans as Asian Americans and forged a movement,” said Frank Wu, dean of the law school at Wayne State University. “It made this group of people who had very little in common realize that even if their ancestors hated each other, they had a common cause in America. That’s why this case still matters.”

From college senior Sehjong Hamjong’s op-ed in the Texan:

The outrage that ensued from the lax verdict and the handling of the case sparked Asians and Asian-Americans across the U.S. to raise awareness of the issue, garnering attention from civil rights groups, such as the NAACP, and national news and talk show programs. This effort eventually led the FBI to conduct an investigation, and the U.S. Department of Justice eventually filed charges against Ebens and Nitz.

Ebens was sentenced to a 25-years in prison, while Nitz was cleared of all wrongdoing. But eventually, Ebens was cleared of all charges through an appeal and another trial. Neither Ebens nor Nitz served any prison time. A civil court ordered Ebens to pay Chin’s family $1.5 million, but Ebens refused and is still on the run from the law.

The media and mainstream press tend to overlook hate crimes targeting Asians and Asian-Americans. Crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans are not always reported properly by police as hate crimes, which causes these crimes to be underreported. Legislative and law-enforcement officials need to become aware that these crimes are not isolated incidents, but part of a larger trend and climate in the U.S. related to anti-Asian sentiment and racial bias.

The FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Report, released in 2005, lists 8,804 victims of hate crimes, and 55.7 percent of those were related to racial bias. Of this percentage, 4.9 percent of the victims were listed as Asian/Pacific Islander, and this number doesn’t include cases that didn’t get reported as a hate crime.

There is a stereotype that Asians and Asian-Americans are perpetual foreigners, and some don’t distinguish between an individual from his or her ethnicity. Twenty-five years after Chin’s death, we must look back as a nation to see if we’ve progressed.

Eric Byler: ‘What Killed Vincent Chin?’

Filmmaker and activist Eric Byler posted this on his MySpace blog (replaced with updated version on June 21):

Acts of violence take on a different dimension when the humanity of the victim is valued differently than that of the perpetrator, especially when the defining quotient is race.  At the time of Vincent Chin’s murder, American airwaves were filled with xenophobic punditry — a familiar dogma of “us vs. them.”  The “us” was mainstream American (implicitly Caucasians) and the “them” was the Asian trade deficit (specifically Japanese), the people, products, and cars that were stealing American jobs and hurting America’s economy.  In the eyes of two laid-off autoworkers, Vincent Chin looked like a Japanese person.  A prerequisite to his murder was a judgment that he was thus less deserving of justice, less deserving of life, and essentially less human.  When the murder was brought to trial, our Justice system upheld this view.

Thanks in great part to the seminal film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena, Asian Pacific Americans across the nation learned of this travesty.  Helen Zia recalled of this period: “For the first time, we considered ourselves as a race, a minority race in America that faced discrimination and had to fight for our civil rights. The Vincent Chin case marked the beginning of the emergence of Asian Pacific Americans as a self-defined American racial group.”  We realized the consequences of not having a voice, not having leadership, and not having visibility.  Without them, we were in danger of being defined as perpetual foreigners, and stripped of our rights.  In defending our place in this society, we were also defending our right to equal justice.

The same battle, of course, is ongoing today.  Xenophobic rhetoric currently proposes different targets.  But the aims remain the same: to harness the power of resentment, hate, and prejudice in the name of an otherwise unpopular ideology.  Over the last year or so, the majority of Americans have come to realize there were no WMD’s in Iraq, and there was and is no moral justification for military violence against a nation of innocent people who happen to share the same religion and skin color as our attackers on Sept. 11th.  It is not a coincidence that during the same period, American airwaves provided less and less strategic punditry about the “War on Terror” and more and more about “Illegal Immigration.”  When our fears and weaknesses could no longer be jolted with images of dark-skinned Muslims brandishing rifles, we were inundated instead with images of dark-skinned Mexicans jumping over fences.  With the concerted efforts of our leaders and our news outlets, the issue of “Illegal Immigration” has come to overshadow an illegal war.

If we could take a step back, almost all Americans would agree that equal justice should not be allotted according to race, religion, or even sexual orientation.  But when we allow our leaders to use such prejudice to drum up support for disastrous policies, we are implicitly encouraging one another to ascribe different values to human beings according to their race, creed, or sexuality.  In the 80’s political strategists implicitly challenged the rights of Asian Americans and Asian products to be in this country.  In this decade, they have done so with Arabs, Muslims, and now Mexican and Latin Americans.  For good measure (and for political gain), they have challenged the rights of gays and lesbians to equality under the law.  When we as a people fail to respond effectively to these tactics, we are, by default, setting the stage for hate crimes.

When we remember Vincent Chin, let us not only honor and appreciate a human being whose life was stolen from his family, his fiance, and friends.  Let us also remember to defend the rights and the equality of all human beings.   To do this, we must stand up to prejudice, in particular when it is utilized by the media and by politicians who control the media.  Prejudice is more than impolite social behavior; prejudice begets violence.  Even if the current target is not your own community (even if you’re not gay, Muslim, or Mexican), it is our duty as citizens to punish “leaders” who perpetuate hate.  Our silence enables them.  Our voice can stop them.  The choice is ours.

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Marks 25th Anniversary of Hate Crime Against Asian American

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) today issued the following statement on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the attack of Vincent Chin:

“Madame Speaker, as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I rise today in remembrance of Vincent Chin on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his attack.

“On June 19, 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was brutally and fatally attacked by two white men who had recently been laid-off by an American automaker. Blaming their lost jobs on the rise of Japanese car companies, Chin’s attackers, mistaking him for Japanese, sought retribution.

“Other than residing in Detroit, Michigan, Vincent Chin had no connection to the automobile industry. Vincent Chin, soon to have been married and celebrating his bachelor party, wasn’t seeking trouble the night of his attack. Chin was attacked and killed simply for being of Asian descent. To add further insult, Chin’s murderers charged with, and pleaded guilty to, a mere manslaughter charge. For murdering a man, each received a sentence of only three years probation and a $3,000 fine - a mere slap on the wrist. Neither killer ever served any jail time.

“The attack on Vincent Chin, his untimely passing, and the insulting lack of justice and punishment for his murders galvanized a community that had not previously come together so broadly. For the first time, there emerged a self-defined Asian American and Pacific Islander racial identification that went beyond the progressive college-educated youth and into the working-class segments of the community. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino; waiters, lawyers, and grandmothers came together with a heightened awareness of the shared experience of racism and discrimination faced by Asian American and Pacific Islanders, regardless of ethnic and socioeconomic background. Twenty-five years after his fatal attack, Vincent Chin remains a contemporary martyr and rallying point for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Movement.

“While today is indeed a day to remember and honor the life and death of Vincent Chin, it is also a reminder that hate crimes are not a memory in a regrettable past. Unfortunately, the past twenty-five years remain littered with physical and verbal assaults and murders based in hate.

OCA Commemorates 25th Anniversary of Vincent Chin’s Death

OCA, a national organization with 80 chapters and affiliates dedicated to ensuring social justice for Asian Pacific Americans, today renewed its commitment to hate crimes prevention and education. Founded in 1973 as the Organization of Chinese Americans, OCA is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.

On June 19, 1982 Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American man, was brutally beaten to death on in Detroit, Michigan.  Although the crime was racially motivated, it was not recognized as a hate crime and Chin’s assailants were sentenced to only three years’ probation and a $3,000 fine

“Vincent Chin’s murder and the soft treatment his attackers received galvanized the Asian Pacific American community to unprecedented action and awareness about hate crimes against APAs,” said Ginny Gong, National President, “OCA, a leading civil rights organization in that movement, continues to fight against violence and hate, whether it is motivated by the victim’s race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.  Today, on the 25th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s assault, we renew our commitment to hate crimes prevention and to spreading awareness about hate crimes.

OCA’s Hate Crimes Initiative Conference Series, in partnership with Allstate Foundation, works with OCA chapters around the country to sponsor conferences targeting community leaders, organizations, and law enforcement officials.  The conferences educate participants about hate crimes in the APA community and encourage participants to be proactive and take preventative measures.  OCA and Allstate have also partnered to publish Responding to Hate Crime: A Community Action Guide, a guidebook to responding to and preventing hate crimes

OCA-Detroit chapter will commemorate the anniversary with an OCA/Allstate Hate Crimes Initiative workshop and memorial activities this weekend.

Multi-Cultural Event Demystifies Hate Crimes; Offers Network of Support and Useful Information

In remembrance of the 25th anniversary of the Vincent Chin case, the Detroit chapter of the OCA will bring together the community for a day of discussion, reflection and networking

The Initiative Against Hate Crimes Conference– Remembering Vincent Chin 25 Years Later, begins at 9AM on June 23rd at the Chinese Community Center in Madison Heights, MI and concludes with a 4PM Gravesite Remembrance for Vincent Chin at Forest Lawn Cemetery located at 11851 Van Dyke Road in Detroit, Michigan. The program is made possible by The Allstate Foundation

The conference will offer tangible advice and information for today’s citizen while examining the various political and cultural issues connected to the murder of Vincent Chin in one of our own Michigan neighborhoods on June 19, 1982.  The conference will focus on current political and social issues against the backdrop of the brutal death of Vincent Chin - a 27 year old Chinese American whose case sparked an unprecedented outpouring of support of Asian Pacific Americans and a federal civil rights case.  The line up includes appearances and contributions by Roland Hwang, former president of the OCA-Detroit (1983) and president of the American Citizens for Justice, plus a keynote address by Frank H. Wu, Dean of Wayne State University Law School and author of the book, “Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White (New York: Basic Books)

“Participants will leave our conference feeling empowered, connected to their community and culture, and inspired to continue a positive dialogue towards change”, says Shenlin Chen, the Executive Director of Detroit’s ACA chapter and organizer of the event.

The event will feature presentations by a variety of civil rights leaders, community groups and politicians and includes a free copy of “Responding to Hate Crimes:  A Community Action Guide”.  The conference is open to the public and free of charge. To register and learn more, visit www.acadetroit.org or contact the ACA at (248) 585-9343. Lunch will be provided, seating is limited

The Association of Chinese Americans – Detroit Chapter was founded in 1972 and is the oldest chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.  The ACA has over 250 members and currently works with a variety of corporate and government partners to further their mission of embracing the hopes and aspirations of Asian Americans in the United States through service, outreach and support

The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by the Allstate Corporation. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote “safe and vital communities”; “tolerance, inclusion, and diversity”; and “economic empowerment”.  The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America’s families achieve their American dream.

What Do You Know About Vincent Chin?

This unattributed video on Google Video features comments from passersby on the Vincent Chin case.

Screenings of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and Townhalls

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (apaforprogress.org) is sponsoring events throughout the country marking the 25th anniversary of the brutal murder of Vincent Chin will include screenings of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”, panels on hate crimes and receptions.

On June 19, 1982, former autoworkers Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz mortally beat Chin, then a 27-year-old Chinese American, out of hatred for the Japanese – who were blamed for the recession in the American auto industry. Ebens and Nitz, who thought Chin was of Japanese ancestry, both pleaded guilty for killing Chin and were sentenced to three years probation and a fine of $3,780.

Ebens and Nitz never served a jail sentence for killing a man who was nine days away from his wedding.

The race-based murder against Vincent Chin sparked the modern Asian American activist movement.

Events are scheduled from June 19-30 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, Portland, Grand Rapids and other cities. Receptions in NYC, SF and LA are sponsored by Imaginasian TV. Asianweek is a media sponsor.

Visit apaforprogress.org or click on the event listings in the sidebar for more information.

OCA-Detroit to Hold June 23 Initiative Against Hate Crimes Conference

OCA, a national Asian Pacific American (APA) organization dedicated to ensuring social justice for Asian Pacific Americans, is pleased to announce the disbursement of five Hate Crime Initiative Conference Grants for 2007.  The five chapter awardees are OCA-Detroit, OCA- New York, OCA-Columbus, OCA-Greater Philadelphia, and OCA-Long Island.

Hate crimes, also known as bias crimes, are criminal acts committed against people or property that are motivated by the offender’s bias against a race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or national origin.  In a hate crime, the offender intentionally targets a victim because of their personal characteristics.  A hate incident is a non-criminal act where the perpetrator has the same motivations as a hate crime and should be treated as seriously as a criminal act.

OCA is committed to educating the community about what constitutes a hate crime, how to prevent hate crimes, and how to respond if an incident occurs.  OCA has been and continues a strong and vocal advocate for all victims of hate crimes.

OCA-Detroit, also known as Association of Chinese Americans and one of OCA’s founding chapters, will hold the Initiative Against Hate Crimes Conference on June 23, 2007, to memorialize the 25th anniversary of the Vincent Chin murder at the Chinese Community Center in Madison Heights, Michigan.

Founded in 1973 as the Organization of Chinese Americans, OCA, a national organization with over 80 chapters and affiliates across the country, is dedicated to advancing the social, economic, and political well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.

Source: OCA Announces Disbursement of 2007 Allstate Hate Crimes Initiative Conference Grants