Our organization was created by attorneys and family members of Vincent Chin, a young Asian American man who was brutally murdered in a racially-motivated hate crime in Detroit, Michigan in 1982. The lack of justice and mere fines that Chin’s murderers faced for their crimes caused outrage, and served as a catalyst that sparked a national Asian American civil rights movement. American Citizens for Justice/Asian American Center for Justice was formed by a small group of attorneys and activisits in Detroit that began to push for the Chin case to be prosecuted as a federal hate crime. They were successful, and the case was the first federal hate crime ever prosecuted that involved an Asian American victim.
The goals of ACJ today have extended beyond the Chin incident, fighting xenophobia and all forms of discrimination through civil rights education, civic engagement, and community advocacy. We focus on advocating for inclusive and equitable voting, immigration, education, and healthcare policy for Asian Americans and all immigrants.
ACJ also provides free legal, social, and economic assistance and resources to Asian Americans that have experienced civil rights violations.
Vincent Jen Chin was a Chinese-American who was beaten to death in a hate crime committed in the Highland Park suburb of Detroit in June 1982 by two white autoworkers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. Chin had been celebrating his bachelor party in a local bar when he was harassed by Ebens and Nitz. Both had been recently laid off by Chrysler, and specifically blamed Asian Americans, or the rise of the Japanese automobile market, for “taking their jobs.” Ebens and Nitz began taunting Chin with racist and xenophobic remarks, including “it’s because of you we’re out of work.” They proceeded to follow Chin to the parking lot, where they attacked and blugeoned the 27- year old to death. Chin died four days later.
With rampant anti-immigrant sentiment in the country at the time, specifically against Asian Americans, Nitz and Ebens failed to ever be held accountable for their crimes. Both were charged with second-degree murder but bargained their charges down to manslaughter. In 1983 they were ordered to pay $3,000 and serve three years probation, with no jail time, despite the fact that they admitted to the killing.
Due to ACJ’s campaign and advocacy efforts, the perpetrators of the Chin murder were eventually brought to trial. Although Roger Ebens was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the ruling was later overturned due to a legal technicality. In a 1987 retrial, Ebens and Nitz were found not guilty on all charges.
ACJ has worked closely with Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and the University of California, Berkley, to develop archives of original media and content on the murder of Chin and the rise of the Asian American civil rights movement that followed. If you are interested in accessing these materials, please contact us at
Who Killed Vincent Chin?