A Timeline of the Chin Case

Timeline created by AAJA
In History
  • Chinese American Laborers Work on the transcontinental railroad

    Chinese American Laborers Work on the transcontinental railroad
    Chinese Americans made up a large part of the work force for the transcontinental railroad. Photo: Track work takes place in Nevada as Central Pacific forces build the western link of the first transcontinental railroad, now a part of the Southern Pacific system, on May 10, 1868. Rail layers shown in the foreground were followed by gangs of Chinese laborers who spaced and spiked the rail to the ties. (AP Photo/Southern Pacific News Bureau)
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt Clears the Way for Japanese Internment

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt Clears the Way for Japanese Internment
    Americans of Japanese descent were involuntarily relocated to designated military zones under Executive Order 9066. Photo: As military police stand guard, people of Japanese descent wait at a transport center in San Francisco April 6, 1942 for relocation to an internment center at Santa Anita racetrack near Los Angeles. They were among thousands of people forced from their homes in the name of national security following the attack on Pearl Harbor. (AP Photo)
  • The Magnuson Act

    The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in December of 1943. In 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives formally expressed regret for the act.
  • Exclusion Order Rescinded - Japanese American Internment Comes to an End

    Exclusion Order Rescinded - Japanese American Internment Comes to an End
    Japanese American Internment camps began to close in 1945. The last one remained open through 1946. Photo: The housing barracks, built by the U.S. Army engineer corps, at the internment center where Japanese Americans are relocated in Amache, Colo., are shown on June 21, 1943. The National Park Service is asking Japanese-Americans ordered into internment camps during World War II how it can preserve what is left of the camps and the stories they hold. (AP Photo)
  • Immigration Quotas Eliminated

    Immigration law abolishes national origin as basis for determining immigration. The Hart-Cellar Act established a new quota system, giving preference to people with professional skills. This act set the bar at 20,000 immigrants from each country with a total of 170,000 immigrants admitted each year.
  • Oil Crisis Give Rise to Racial Tension

    Oil Crisis Give Rise to Racial Tension
    AP/Str Photo: In this photo members of the United Autoworkers Local 588 of the Ford Motor Co. stamping plant wield sledgehammers and bars on a 1975 Toyota Corolla March 3, 1981, during a rally against buying foreign-made products. Japanese auto and government officials in 2005 are worried about a replay of the "Japan-bashing" trade friction of the 1980s, when Toyota and others were blamed for stealing car sales and U.S. jobs, prompting outraged auto workers to smash Japanese cars in protest.
  • Vincent Chin Beaten in Restaurant Parking Lot

    Vincent Chin Beaten in Restaurant Parking Lot
    On June 19, 1982, Vincent Chin prepared to celebrate his wedding, not knowing that his bachelor party would be his last night in consciousness. That night, he was attacked and beaten by two autoworkers. Chin was hit with a baseball bat until the perpetrators were taken into custody by two off-duty police officers who witnessed the crime in progress. Chin was taken to the hospital, where he died four days later.
  • Vincent Chin Dies

    Vincent Chin Dies
    Vincent Chin dies on his mother's 62nd birthday. Days later on June 27th, those who would have attended his wedding attended his funeral instead.
  • Some Unemployed Autoworkers Allow Their Frustration and Anger about Their Misfortunes to Turn Into Ill Will Against Asian Americans

    Some Unemployed Autoworkers Allow Their Frustration and Anger about Their Misfortunes to Turn Into Ill Will Against Asian Americans
    Gary auto worker Jim Coleman (left) and Griffith businessman Charlie Cobb (right) strike a blow for American industry in a charity campaign sponsored by northern Indiana steelworkers Friday, Sept. 10, 1982. Union leaders in the economically hard hit steelmaking region allowed people to swing a sledgehammer at a Japanese-made auto for $1 a shot. The money went to help the families of laid-off workers. (AP Photo)
  • Trial: Wayne County

    Wayne County Judge Charles Kaufman finds Ebens and Nitz guilty of manslaughter. For the first time in Wayne County, the prosecuting attorney does not attend. No witnesses are called. Ebens and Nitz get three years probation, a $3,000 fine,and $780 in court fees.
  • Outrage: American Citizens For Justice

    Outrage: American Citizens For Justice
    Enraged by this lenient sentence, Asian Americans rallied together to decry the lack of punishment for the homicide of a young Chinese man. Asian Americans were moved to speak out together and make their voices heard. Two weeks after the first trail, American Citizens For Justice was formed. Lily Chin was a founding member. To this day, neither killer has served a day in jail or paid the reparations to the Chin family.
  • Public Pressure Re-opens the Case

    Public Pressure Re-opens the Case
    In July of 1983, public pressure causes the U.S. Justice Department to order the FBI to investigate whether Chin’s civil rights were violated. In 1984, Ebens is found guilty of violating Chin’s civil rights but not of conspiracy. He is sentenced to 25 years in prison, but released on a $20,000 bond. Nitz is cleared.
  • Further Complication for the Case

    Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Ebens’ conviction, ruling that American Citizens for Justice attorney improperly coached prosecution witnesses.
  • Re-trial Opens in Cincinnati

    A retrial opens in Cincinnati in April of 1987, the result of an appeal and public pressure. On May 1, Ebens is cleared of all charges. In July, a civil suit orders Ebens to pay $1.5 million to Chin’s estate as part of a court-approved settlement. However, Ebens disposes of his assets and flees the state. He has not paid any of the settlement.
  • What Kind of Justice?

    Disillusioned with the U.S. Justice System, Lily Chin moves back to Guangzhou, China. “I love America. I think this is a good country. But now, after these men killed my son , I don’t like to live here. This is not fair. What kind of law is this? What kind of justice?” -Lily Chin
  • Civil Liberties Act

    President Ronald Reagan signs a bill apologizing for Japanese American internment. Reparation of $20,000 is given to each victim.
  • 20 Years Later

    20 Years Later
    AP Photo: Amy Lee places flowers at the grave stone of her nephew, Vincent Chin, at a 20th anniversary memorial at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit, Sunday, June 23, 2002. Chin, a Chinese-American, was beaten to death with a baseball bat by two unemployed autoworkers who mistook him for Japanese. Prosecutors said they two men were motivated by anti-Japanese sentiment at a time when the U.S. auto industry was losing ground to imports. The sentences...
  • Memorial Installed at ACJ Site

    Michigan Bar Association installed a plaque at the site where American Citizens for Justice held their meetings. The memorial site reminds us of what we stand to lose if we let our voices go unheard.
  • Apologies for the Chinese Exclusion Act

    In 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives formally expressed regret for the act.
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    As early as the 1800s, the Asian American community faced significant challenges.

    As early as the 1800s, the Asian American community faced significant challenges to exercising equal rights in the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U.S. history, denying Chinese Americans basic freedoms on the basis of ethnicity. For the first time, federal law excluded an entire ethnic working group from entering the country.
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    Japanese American Internment

    Just as Chinese Americans were granted basic freedoms with the repeal of the Chinese Exlusion Act, Japanese Americans lost many of theirs. In 1942, over 110,000 Japanese Americans were denied personal justice as they were involuntarily held in internment camps solely on the basis of their ethnicity.
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    Racial Tension Festers in Detroit

    Racial tensions were prevalent in Michigan as American auto companies laid off auto workers due to higher fuel costs and increased competition with overseas automakers. Detroit is nicknamed the Motor City. Before the oil crisis of 1979, 99 percent of cars in America were manufactured by the “Big 3″ U.S. automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Competition from Japanese automakers led to a decrease in demand for American cars, which led to lay-offs and cuts.