♪♪ ♪♪ -The jukebox was sitting here.
Back here, can see the mirror and the lockers where they would get ready for their dance.
Generally, the girls would perform three dances -- the first one in their outfits, and the last two had to be topless.
-You just don't walk away after you've killed a man.
I don't care for what reason, whether it was a drunken brawl or whether it was for racial means.
You just don't absolutely go and beat a man to death with a baseball bat.
-During the noon hours, it was a big time for businessmen.
Usually white males, three-piece suits.
Nice cars pull in here, and they're usually by themselves.
The evening hours would draw more of the -- One in two -- You know, couple of guys -- type come in -- the factory workers and things.
But, primarily, it was just one john would come at a time.
-♪ Dip-dip-dip-dip, buhm ♪ -♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ ♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ ♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ ♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ ♪ Oh, yip-yip-yip-yip-yip, mum-mum-mum-mum-mum ♪ ♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ -♪ Oh, when I get the paper ♪ ♪ I read it through and through ♪ ♪ And my girl has the nerve to say ♪ ♪ If there is any work for me-e-e ♪ -There was a table in front of the booth, and the girl would come into the booth with them and service them by either giving them a lap dance or a handjob.
-Next thing I know, while the other girl's out dancing, we hear "boom, boom, boom, boom," you know?
And we run to the stage to see what's happening.
She's coming off the stage.
You know, we go, "What's up?"
And we look out, and I see guys fighting out there in the club.
♪♪ -I was walking down the street from my girlfriend's house, and I seen some guys across the street over there.
And, you know, one guy, older guy, was checking a young guy's head, you know, 'cause blood was running down his face.
And went over to see if they need any help.
They said they needed some help, and they was gonna offer me $20 to catch these Chinese guys that they got into it with.
So I said, "Okay."
I said, "Do y'all want to go to the hospital?"
'Cause it was right around the corner.
So we got into their car.
The father was saying, you know, "When we catch up with these Chinese guys, we're gonna bust their [bleep] heads."
And as we got up to McDonald's, the father seen the two Chinese guys sitting down.
And I told them that the police was there.
♪♪ They said, "[Bleep] the police."
-At which time they jumped out, and it kind of shocked me and -- Because it's a predominantly 90% Black neighborhood, and to see those male whites get out of a car with a baseball bat, the first thing I was thinking that maybe it was coming from the Tiger Stadium baseball game.
-Mr. Ebens and Mr. Nitz jumped out from behind a truck, attempted to grab Vincent Chin, who they cornered up in the phone booth here.
-Mr. Nitz had grabbed Mr. Vincent Chin in a bear hug while Mr. Ebens swung a bat, repeatedly striking Mr. Chin.
-Evidently, Mr. Chin broke loose.
He ran out here to the middle of the street, and he stopped.
Mr. Ebens was standing over him with a baseball bat.
He had it with both hands, and he was hitting him in the top of his head.
-He swung the bat as if a baseball player was swinging for a home run.
[ Siren wailing ] -You know how they kill my son.
One person that stand, hold him up.
-Hold -- Held him?
Hold him up.
-The son held him, yes.
-The father hit him -- the head.
-Um... -Killed my son just like it killed an animal like that.
♪♪ -Nitz and Ebens were both charged with killing Vincent Chin.
I spoke with some of his neighbors, asked for reaction.
-They're really good people, and it could happen to anybody.
You know, it could happen to my husband.
It could happen to anybody in my family.
It's just one of those things.
-If you lived across the street and somebody's like that next to you, what are you gonna say?
You know, you're putting me on the spot.
♪♪ -Well, the legend of Vincent Chin was probably best explained by Elizabeth when she came home from school.
She was 8 years old.
She was in the second grade at that time, she was.
And said, "I found out what the Vincent Chin case is all about."
She said, "That's the case, my substitute teacher told me, where the autoworker who was out of work was so mad that he beat up this Chinese guy because he thought he was Japanese."
-I think anybody who takes the time to go over the facts of this case and to read what people who are witnesses there, who have no... no motivation, no self-interest in coming forward and saying they overheard certain things, racial things.
Anybody who takes the time to look at that, I think, can only conclude that there was racial motivation in this killing.
-I'm no racist.
I've never been a racist.
I've never had anything against anybody in this whole world.
And with God as my witness, that's the truth.
♪♪ [ Indistinct shouting ] [ Bob Seger's "Boomtown Blues" plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ Southern sun ridin' high ♪ ♪ Winter nights warm and dry ♪ ♪ You've earned your space, buddy ♪ ♪ You've done your time ♪ ♪ How come you've got no peace of mind?
♪ ♪ Lots of work everywhere ♪ ♪ Lots of money, honey ♪ ♪ Gettin' your share ♪ ♪ Folks back home say they'd love to be in your shoes ♪ ♪ So how come you've got those boomtown blues?
♪ -It was kind of scary coming into a big city like this when you're not used to -- you know, when you come from a town that had, what... -One street.
[ Laughs ] -How many people?
-So it's quite a change.
-♪ You're feelin' restless and it's hard to sleep ♪ ♪ Look what you win, but look what you lose ♪ ♪ Stuck here in heaven with these boomtown blues ♪ ♪♪ -Detroit itself is a fast city and especially for automotive executives or automotive people, because a lot of things are geared around that guy that works 8, 10 hours a day in a plant.
When he gets out, he wants to get out and he wants to party.
-♪ Take me to the bar on time ♪ -Why in the hell did you get... -[Bleep] [ Laughter ] -That was a wide turn!
Yeah, you're over right, honey!
You gotta get over.
You can't make a left.
[ Indistinct shouting ] -You see that last night?
-I had to bowl last night.
I couldn't go [bleep] -In Wisconsin, it was a normal thing to go hunting on the weekends.
Up here, you had to drive, you know, a lot farther.
You just didn't do the same things you do in the Wisconsin area.
♪ Detroit has lots of flavor ♪ ♪ 'Cause it's the city made our way ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -♪ It's a place to catch a ballgame ♪ ♪ A place to walk around ♪ ♪ It's a place to hear the music ♪ ♪ A place they call Motown ♪ ♪ This is my kind of city ♪ ♪ I'm here, and it's my choice ♪ ♪ It's a renaissance, good-feeling ♪ ♪ People-pleasin' place called Detroit ♪ -You know, when you start -- you're from Wisconsin, you're from a poor, poor area.
And we both were.
You go there and you start making big dollars at Chrysler.
-♪ People-pleasin' place called Detroit!
♪ -The dashboards in the cars.
You take them, set them into the car, do all the wiring.
That's where I started.
I worked on the line for, hm, probably three months.
And they made a supervisor out of me.
I took over a group with 50 people in it.
And I just progressed from there.
-We started out $3.25 an hour, and that was a lot of money.
And you looked at, geez, you'd like to be a supervisor, and that would be great.
It was a wide-open range 'cause Chrysler was really expanding at that time, and they were -- they were doing really well.
-I was raised on a farm, and I spent my first 17 years on a farm with five kids.
♪♪ I guess that part of my life I really miss.
I enjoyed the farm more than anything I've ever done.
-In the plants, you live a very fast and hard life.
You work hard and you play hard.
It was great.
It was something you never dreamed of.
♪♪ I think that -- that we adapted well, and Ron especially, probably more so than myself, 'cause he fit into this -- this group of people.
He fit into the -- the faster crowd.
-[ Singing indistinctly ] ♪♪ And he enjoyed getting out.
He enjoyed going out to dinners.
He enjoyed doing things on a nightly basis, almost.
♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking Mandarin ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Woman speaking Mandarin ] ♪♪ -It's Goodbye Party Time now at Jefferson Chevrolet, Detroit.
-Here come the Tigers in the fourth inning.
[ Woman singing in Mandarin ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -For the early Asian immigrants who came to Detroit, there was the hope of the auto industry and the prosperity that they might be able to gain from that.
Some of them got jobs in the auto plants, but I think for the most part it was in service industries around the -- all of the higher-paying work in Detroit.
Primarily for Chinese, it was laundries and restaurants.
So for Asians who came here, they were looking for the same thing -- a hope, a promise, a dream of a better life.
Over time, that began to change as more and more educated immigrants came over, I think probably after the 1940 and 1950s.
They, too, sought jobs in the auto industry as engineers.
And I think the dream for many of them was that if they did their work, were quiet, tried their hardest to assimilate, and not make waves or cause trouble that they, too, could have a hope of the great American dream... ♪♪ ...of blending in the melting pot... getting their piece of the pie.
♪♪ [ Woman singing in native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ How sweet it is to be loved by you ♪ Clap your hands with me.
♪ Oh, sugar, how sweet it is to be loved... ♪ -I was a supervisor there.
She was -- worked on the line as an operator.
-I worked on the line.
I put on scuff plates and -- I had a subassembly job where we put in glass in station wagons and... ♪♪ -We eventually got married.
Shortly thereafter, we got transferred to Detroit, where I took a new job at the plant up here.
♪♪ -♪ I wanna stop and thank you, baby ♪ ♪ I wanna stop ♪ -♪ And thank you, baby ♪ -♪ How sweet it is to be loved by you ♪ -Life was really good, really.
-♪ Ohh, sugar ♪ ♪ How sweet it is to be loved by you ♪ -I planned on raising the kids, take their vacations like everybody else does.
♪♪ -Yeah, they get their percentages.
They don't give a [bleep] what they make.
They get a 3% increase.
♪♪ -As a foreman in an assembly plant, you are the guy that has to instruct an hourly person.
You're the guy that takes all those decisions that are made up in the higher -- the hierarchy of the plant and bring them down to these hourly people and have to implement them.
Now, the problem is, is to get close enough to those people so that when you tell them something, they believe in what you're telling them.
-Five or six tabs?
Well, six altogether.
-Ron did very well.
He was general supervisor at Belvidere before he came up to Lynch Road, where he was superintendent.
And a lot of that was just through knowing people.
It wasn't that Ron's real well-educated or anything like that.
-This is the coming thing, and there's no way in hell we can stop it.
-It's gonna be like Japan.
-They don't even got a -- -Well, they'll never get the Americans to strap themselves on a plane or some [bleep] thing.
We're not that type of people.
-In Japan, you have to be a supervisor to be a union official.
-And they work on peer pressure.
-If you screw up, you don't get a reprimand -- you get your ass beat.
-[ Laughter ] -That's right.
-They got guys over there to do that for 'em.
It's nothing like over here.
-What's their wages over there?
A dollar an hour or some damn thing like that?
-You know the reason you can do it?
Because of labor.
Labor is the only real cost item there.
They do it so much cheaper because they don't pay the wages we pay.
And that is -- If you got right down to it, that's the bottom line.
-You gotta figure, too -- -They don't build a better car, Jay.
-Yeah, but wait a second.
I know that a job there, they give you a house to live in and everything else, too.
-They're subsidizing them, aren't they?
-Well, hell yeah.
They're guaranteed a lifetime job immediately.
When you walk in.
You got a lifetime job.
-Yeah, a dollar an hour.
-If you behave.
-Oh, yeah, if you bow down and all that nonsense.
They don't even let you drink tea on your break if you screw up.
[ Laughter ] -How many did you want?
Did you want two?
-I want two.
-Where's my kiss, Adele?
-You can give me a kiss, Adele.
-No, you don't get kissed.
-Hey, I need a pitcher!
-The only single guy at the table don't get a kiss.
-What do you mean, single?
-Yes, I was surprised.
Uh, uh -- And the one thing is -- is I know that Ron in a lot of cases would be -- would be a little bit an extrovert.
He would talk -- He'd talk to anybody.
That's the kind of person he was.
But every little while, he would get into arguments with people.
You know, not into fights and stuff like that.
But he'd get into arguments.
-♪ Ooh-ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Baby love, my baby love ♪ ♪ I need you, oh, how I need you ♪ -He's been in some scrapes before.
You know, I think everybody has.
But he's been in some scrapes in a bar, one or two before.
And he really -- Ron just -- He did have a knack at times where he could rub somebody the wrong way.
But normally it would end up in a discussion and, you know, it would end there.
♪♪ We used to go to other topless bars like the Fancy Pants, places like this.
[ Indistinct conversations ] It would just be a place to go in a group of guys.
[ Whistle blowing ] It's just a way to relieve yourself.
And you'd have girls up dancing that would dance, you know, topless.
And people would, you know -- sometimes yell at the girls, sometimes just sit there and drink, whatever.
But it was a place for the -- for the group of people from the plants to go and meet, you know.
And most of them are married and very family-orientated people.
But it was a night out.
It was a night out for the guys.
-Mike is my stepson.
I more or less raised him since he was 11 years old.
I feel I raised him like my own son.
I feel we're that close.
-When I first got pretty close with Mike, Mike had just gotten laid off from Chrysler.
And contrary to what you read in the papers, you know, you're talking a young -- young guy just out of teens.
Thought it was great.
Get 90% of the pay.
They had some kind of subpay, starting in -- spring, summertime.
You know, he was not upset about being laid off.
You know, here you're gonna collect all this money.
Could go on trips.
I mean, he loved it.
It was great.
I mean, who wouldn't?
20-year-old kid or however he was then.
-And his 23-year-old stepson, Michael Nitz.
Both were convicted last year in the baseball beating death of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American engineer who was at a Detroit area bar to attend a party two days before he was to be married.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] -I didn't see Ron come home, because he came home after -- after we did.
Because he rode home in his friend's car back.
See, I didn't know.
I thought, "Oh, Ron's probably playing shuffleboard or whatever," because he always did that.
And I did not know that they were together, really, till later on, around 10:30.
-Gerry will be back with three new contestants on our next program.
Dreams will come true right here on the "Saturday Night Music Machine"!
Come on up!
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] -What if we'd had an accident prior to it?
What if we'd have went to the ball game and -- There's 10,000 what-ifs I've asked myself.
And it's just like this was... pre-ordained to be, I guess.
It just -- It just happened.
♪♪ -I was talking to Jimmy on my left, and Vincent was on my right when I heard Vincent say, "Don't call me a [bleep].
I'm not a [bleep]."
And that's when I turned and saw who Vincent was talking to, the man I later found out was Mike -- Ronald Ebens.
And I put my hand on Vincent's arm to kind of calm him down.
-I came around the bar, and all I saw was that Mr. Ebens was yelling at Vincent Chin, and the next thing you know, Vincent got up, walked around, and hit Mr. Ebens.
-And he come around and sucker-punched me.
And that was -- that was the start of it all right there.
I never - I never even got a chance to stand up, never seen it coming.
And that's the way the whole thing started.
-I identified myself as a police officer.
I showed them my badge and an I.D.
I had my weapon drawn.
I asked him to drop the baseball bat.
-He hesitated, at which time he eventually dropped the baseball bat.
But at that particular time, the damage had been done.
-When we pulled up, we found there was an Oriental gentleman.
His skull was obviously fractured.
There was brains laying on the street.
And Chin was obviously in a fatal condition.
He wasn't dead yet.
He was semi-conscious.
But, you know, from my experience of being on the street for so long, the man was a goner.
[ Beeping ] [ Beep ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking Mandarin ] -♪ All of the other reindeer ♪ ♪ Used to laugh and call him names ♪ ♪ They never let poor Rudolph ♪ ♪ Join in any reindeer games ♪ ♪ Then one foggy Christmas Eve ♪ ♪ Santa came to say ♪ ♪ "Rudolph, with your nose so bright ♪ ♪ Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
♪ -I met Vincent in first grade.
I remember seeing him, chubby with the bow tie.
And I gave him a hard time about that.
-♪ You'll go down in history ♪ -He was standing in front of the class.
The teacher was introducing him to us.
He looked so scared.
And, of course, a new school and new country for him.
But we soon became friends, and I'd known him for 20-some years.
♪♪ I think Vincent fit in very well.
♪♪ He learned the ways of America, and he didn't seem to be handicapped by the fact that he was Chinese.
He made a lot of friends, had a lot of girlfriends.
♪♪ People accepted him pretty readily.
He had a very good sense of humor.
He was always laughing.
I was always the quiet one.
You know, the friends I have are very close.
But he was one for making friends anywhere.
He could walk into a place and get to know people real well.
And he was always the life of the party.
He'd always be laughing and joking.
I kind of admired that.
-♪ Have mercy on me ♪ ♪ Lord, have mercy ♪ ♪ Oh, it's misery, yeah ♪ [ Applause ] [ Song ends ] ♪♪ -Vincent used to work with his father on Sundays at the restaurant.
[ Man singing in native language ] -Vincent wanted to get married and have an American job.
And he accomplished that goal by working at the engineering place.
He was looking forward to having children.
Vincent's father died in 1981.
His mother was going to move in with him and his wife.
He said that was the traditional thing to do in Chinese families.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] -That's the first time I'd ever been in a jail cell and... hopefully it'll be the last time I'm ever in a jail cell.
That...is not a good experience for anyone, especially when there's no blankets, there's no mattress, there's no pillows.
There's nothing there but a steel cot.
And that's what you get through the night on.
Um, I remember next day was Father's Day.
I remember that.
I felt like a real jerk.
You know, being in jail and... knowing next day was Father's Day.
-I went to the hospital with another friend the next day and saw Vincent.
And we talked with a nurse there, and she said that he was brain-dead... that there really was no hope.
He was just being kept alive by the machine.
And his mother gave the permission to turn the machine off, and he would die.
-On that Thursday -- I think it was about 2:00 in the afternoon he called and told me that Vincent had died.
And at that time, I didn't see any reason to call Ron at work because there really wasn't anything he could do at that time.
So I waited for him to come home and...
In fact, I think he played baseball that night and he came home a little later than usual, 'cause he was on a baseball team.
-I think the media really kind of blew it out of proportion, in my opinion.
I think that somehow the media found out that Ron worked for Chrysler and jumped off on that and made it a racial thing, because they're not -- they're not like that.
Ron owned a bar in a pretty crummy neighborhood, had every walk of life as a customer.
-Well, a lot of managers did a lot of different things, you know, to get stuff going on the side, too.
I guess it all depends on what kind of drive you got, what you want.
If you want more, you go get more.
We were in there about four years, and I was getting transferred to another plant.
And I didn't want to be that far away from where the business was.
So at that point in time, I just went ahead and set up to sell it and get out of there.
So that was the big reason that we left the establishment there.
-Well, there was talk about closing those plants, too.
We were just down the street from those.
Lynch Road and... Eldon Axle.
-♪ What a thrill to take the wheel ♪ ♪ Of a Rocket Oldsmobile ♪ ♪ With the Rocket engine and Whirlaway ♪ ♪ It's a driver's dream come true ♪ [ Tires screech ] ♪♪ -Right here in Detroit, we live on the automobile.
I was astounded when they let us go down the way they did.
They almost let Chrysler drown.
♪♪ -When it started, America was unprepared.
From across the ocean, they came -- little cars -- determined to change the buying habits of a nation.
And for a while, there was no stopping them.
I'll tell you the truth.
Volkswagen did not really cut that deep, but they were the start, you know?
-They were the only one at that time.
-Well, what the hell.
But I'm just saying that was the first real import.
They've always had Rolls-Royces and [bleep] Mercedes, but they didn't do nothing to hurt our market, you know?
Hey, we controlled the whole market of the world.
We were -- We were the car producers.
Certainly they were hurting.
You're damn right they were.
They were out of jobs.
They couldn't find a job.
-Chevrolet stands alone!
-♪ See the USA in your Chevrolet ♪ -There was no way they could -- I'm talking about a skilled tradesperson, now, here in the Detroit area.
When these automobile plants got cut down, that ended every-- Hey, I've got kids, you know, and son-in-laws and something like that.
They cannot find a job.
I had a son that went to Houston.
My other son -- My son-in-law went to Houston.
My son went to Houston.
They went all over the world trying to -- I mean, all over the United States looking for a damn job.
There was none to be available.
-♪ Drive your Chevrolet through the USA ♪ ♪ America's the greatest land of all ♪ -We're gonna keep losing till somebody wakes up and stops it.
But they got to start buying American.
That's what they got to do.
-The state bank account over a billion in the red, industries pulling up stakes faster than you could say "single business tax."
-I've had enough of '82.
It has to get better.
-And so it must be.
For Detroit, 1982 was the year the recession became depression by proclamation of Mayor Young.
He declared a hunger emergency in the city.
Officially, Detroit's unemployment hit 17%.
Half the people in the city on some kind of government assistance.
-♪ Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip, mum-mum-mum-mum-mum ♪ -♪ Get a job ♪ -♪ Sha-na-na-na, sha-na-na-na-na-na ♪ -We had 3,000 people in our place.
I think they cut 'em down to... -A thousand or something.
-...under a thousand I think it was.
So they hurt many people.
Some guys, they we were off for long enough, they never did get called back.
-Choked by imports and fighting for survival, the American auto industry and its army have targeted Japan as a major source of its problems.
-We are being shot at and shot up by the Japanese, who have the most protectionist economy in the world.
What some of those who hold up the specter of a trade war ignore is that we are already in the middle of such a war, but only the Japanese are shooting.
-I said if I were President of the United States for two months, I said I'd fix the Japanese like they've never been fixed.
I said I would put a moratorium on automobile... [ "1812 Overture" plays ] ♪♪ -But many of their verbal bullets aimed at the Japanese government and carmakers have strayed off course and are hitting home instead.
-I've been followed on the road by hostile people screaming out the window of their car, brandishing weapons in the window and everything else.
And I've come very close on several occasions to having a... serious confrontation where someone probably would have got hurt.
-We got Japs, Chinese, any [bleep] guy in the world working on our line, and it don't bother us one bit.
And they had all the Japanese cars -- This is not a prejudice situation.
With a guy -- People get excited when they talk about -- You know, like I told you, I'd call a foreign car anything but a General Motors car in that lot.
That's a foreign car to me.
-I just mind my own business, but in light of how many people go out of their way to antagonize people that look different than them, at least in this part of the country, it's surprising that there hasn't been more than one Vincent Chin incident.
-Nikki Grandberry is standing by in Southfield with more.
And, Nikki, I hope we can assume that these cars do not have owners.
-That's right, Bev.
The car you're looking at... -I've driven a Japanese car for years.
I found once a sign on my own windshield saying I hate people who don't drive American cars.
There were pictures.
In fact, a person who made a documentary about the Chin case exploited those pictures of people smashing Japanese imports.
They were so angry.
But it's a quantum leap, a giant jump to say that you're angry at Japanese imports and that you then hate Oriental people.
[ "1812 Overture" plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] -Well, to be quite honest, I expected to go to jail.
I pleaded guilty to manslaughter on that.
I did just like anybody else.
I went to take my licks because I thought, sure, I would go to jail.
And I was prepared to go, really, as much as you can be prepared for something like that.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] ♪♪ -And, in what outraged the Asian community, both escaped a 15-year prison term.
Instead, they were placed on three years' probation and given a $3,000 fine because neither had a previous criminal record and both had what the judge called "stable working backgrounds."
-The victim lingered for four days, which, again, based upon everything, was indicative to me that they attempted to administer a punishment.
They did this too severely in careless, reckless disregard of human life, which is what manslaughter is.
And that's what they were found guilty of, and that's what I predicated my sentence on.
Had it been a brutal murder, of course these fellas would be in jail now.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] -And right there on the front page was, uh... ...coverage that these two killers had received probation for killing a Chinese man.
And I -- I just felt all of the blood and feeling in my body leave me.
I just couldn't believe that this had happened.
-You know, I was brought up to believe that if you do something wrong, you have to pay the price.
And it didn't seem that, you know, Vincent's life was valued very much.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] -Yeah, we all were surprised that they didn't come to us and ask us what happened.
You know, all the dancers were, like, shocked.
-When you have two police officers as eyewitnesses to any type of crime, I believe both officers should have been notified for court.
Both officers should have went to court, and both officers should have been notified of any plea bargaining.
In this matter, we were -- I would have to say maybe the last to know.
-Didn't you have, then, the responsibility to ask for the other side of the case before you handed down the sentence?
-Bill, I am the presiding judge in the Criminal Division of the Wayne Circuit Court.
I have approximately 50 sentences every week.
With 50 sentences a week, you're talking about 200 sentences a month.
You're talking about over 2,000 sentences per year!
♪♪ -In March 1983, two men, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, stood before Judge Charles Kaufman, a Wayne County circuit judge, to be sentenced for their convictions of manslaughter.
The charges in this case were originally second-degree murder.
Is that right?
What happens to reduce the charges from second-degree murder to the charges that were subsequently pled to, which would be manslaughter?
-It's the process called plea bargaining.
The prosecutor offered both defendants the right to plead guilty to a lesser offense, namely manslaughter, in exchange for the defendants giving up their right to a trial by jury or a trial by the judge.
They accepted that offer, and they pled guilty to manslaughter.
-The only thing that really bugs me is that the response, especially from people in the legal community, has been that these things happen all the time.
Sure, police detectives don't even bother to ask people at the scene of the crime anything.
I did have an opportunity to read the pre-sentence report, the psychiatric evaluation and so forth.
And one thing I don't understand about that was that -- words like Ronald Ebens is a bigot, an extremely hostile person, has a long history of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems.
And it recommended, in addition to incarceration, that he receive detoxification and counseling for his alcoholism.
-With all due respect, Helen, I think you're being somewhat naive by saying you got to get more caring prosecutors or better police officers, or we got to have a system that gives the judge more information.
This state can't even find enough money to house those people who go through the process, who get convicted of serious crimes, who get out of jail much too soon for the crime they have committed, let alone trying to get the resources necessary to have longer and more complicated procedures to get more information.
-They didn't even know that the sentencing was going to take place.
One friend, one family friend was able to find out that day and was present at the sentencing.
And he was totally shocked by the outcome of the sentence.
And when it happened, he says that he stood there and -- "Is this it?"
You know, "Isn't anybody else going to be allowed to say anything?"
-I graduate from the Henry Ford Trade School in 1923 and continuously worked 46 years with the company.
And then I retire, 1969.
That's a long time.
[ Indistinct conversations ] Well, on account of Kaufman... gave them probation.
What he should have done is to found both of them guilty.
Because the son held Chin helpless, defenseless.
-[ Speaks native language ] -And the father hit him -- hit him on the head three or four times.
[ Indistinct conversations ] He think that we owe him some kind of a gratitude.
Because we, the people, Chinese people here, are united against his judgment.
[ Marching band playing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -I got involved because actually in looking at it, here are two complete strangers, two kooks, and they can do something like that and get away with it on a probation... when just the other day, a man on a negligent homicide or manslaughter got 15 years.
♪♪ Being able to see possibly the ramifications with my own children, I thought we ought to do something to send a message out.
♪♪ -From the very beginning of our background, our parents have always taught us to be very low-key and not to participate in activities or even in politics.
So the Asian-Americans have been always in the background and reluctant to speak out.
♪♪ ♪♪ -To change the image of Asian people, our image of passiveness, able to sit, just do nothing, to accept whatever is coming to us, we decide it's time to stand up for our rights.
♪♪ ♪♪ Happy Thanksgiving!
♪♪ -It was such a brutal murder that really just pricked the conscience of everyone else.
But I guess even more so was the fact that so many of us have experienced that kind of thing for so long.
♪♪ [ Applause ] I think it's had a tremendous impact because it demonstrated that this whole question of injustice was endemic to the system in America and that all of us had to be concerned.
Freedom is indivisible.
-Justice for Vincent Chin!
Justice for Vincent Chin!
-Justice for Vincent Chin!
-The 11:30 rally began with a list of speakers nearly a page long waiting to add their personal support and that of many organizations to the cause of Justice for Vincent Chin.
-We ask that all of you who have been so supportive on the struggle for justice will continue to ask the judge to vacate his present invalid sentence and to sentence these men... -Yee later told the audience that they were there because of a double tragedy -- the murder of Vincent Chin and the failure of our criminal justice system to adequately punish the killers.
The victim's mother, Mrs. Lily Chin, said simply, "I want justice for my son, Vincent.
Thank you for your help."
-The American Citizens for Justice began by just wanting to put these people in jail any way they could.
Then they discovered, really, the only way they could put them in jail is if there were a federal prosecution because a state court couldn't change its sentence.
So then they went after the federal prosecution with a vengeance.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Applause ] -I am really grateful to all.
[ Voice breaking ] We all will have...
We all will really have to get justice for my son, Vincent.
-Well, I often wondered who the ACJ was because every time a different program came on, a different month of the year came up, there was a different president or different representative parading Mrs. Chin around the country or whatever.
-I personally think that a lot of them used it for their own vehicle just to get ahead.
And, secondly, they used it -- they used it to promote the Asian-American and their alleged plight in this country, which I am not aware of, that they have a plight, 'cause I know very few Asians, very few.
And the ones that I do know have always been really nice people.
And, in fact, my daughter helped -- used to help an Asian kid at school.
-We want justice!
We want justice!
-Then they started all the marches and things like that.
And we come to reality that this was going to go a lot farther than we ever dreamed before.
And that's when it started really crushing Ron, as far as he started feeling this is getting awful big.
It's getting bigger than we could ever -- ever imagined that it would.
So we organized our own situation.
We had a couple rallies or whatever at the house here where we had a lot of Ron's friends together and stuff and donations and things like that, but it didn't go real well for us because people were afraid.
-A group of friends of the two defendants is organizing to speak out in support.
They reject claims of a racially motivated beating.
-Ron and Mike are probably the most unprejudiced people that I know.
They would do anything for anybody.
-I don't know the facts, but in my mind I see them -- I see this as an accident.
-They were afraid that they'd go out and they'd be identified with Ron Ebens.
So you watched in the newspaper, and the case kind of evolved from a bar incident where drunk people got out of control and out of hand and somebody was killed into a civil-rights case that somehow was supposed to have major moment for the whole world to take a look at.
-Nobody ever looked at this case carefully until ACJ and the Asian community stepped in.
We began to investigate.
Then the news media began to investigate, too.
-Uh, excuse me.
[ Lawn mower running ] ♪♪ -Why did you end up killing him, though?
-Just got -- You know, was really angry, you know?
What made you so angry?
-Him for attacking us.
-Then why did you chase him?
Want to get even.
-In other words, if you are angry enough, it is justified to kill someone.
I never said that.
I never said that.
Now, don't put words in my mouth.
♪♪ -Well, it's an instant nightmare.
You see your picture on the front page.
I mean, it just is...
It's just like...something you just can't even, uh... ...describe, really, because it just -- You just -- Your poor little heart just sinks because you think, "Oh, God.
Here we go again."
-Some people say that the media made this case, that it was the media that brought about the prosecution out of Washington.
Was it exploited at all, the story, in your mind or was it, in your mind, fairly and adequately represented?
-I think there was sensationalism, yeah.
And I think it was on both sides.
-And before the night was out, Vincent Chin was dead.
♪♪ -The Fancy Pants is hard-core.
It costs $2 to park your car.
$10 to get in the door.
A dimly lit place where scantily clad girls sit along the wall, waiting their turn to expose themselves to a room full of men.
During one of the nude dances that night, Ron Ebens looked across the runway and spotted Vincent Chin.
-There were reporters in the area that went through almost docudramas of how it occurred, what happened, using pho-- using sketchings, using all kinds of sort of illustrative techniques to make it dramatic, to make a tragic story more dramatic so that it sells.
-No, I don't think that's true at all.
I really disagree.
And quite frankly, I think -- And I'm sure you're going to not like this, but I think it was investigative journalism at its best moment.
As this story unfolded, it really did become something that reporters were digging up.
-Dancer Racine Colwell heard the argument.
-Okay, I turned around, and I heard Mr. Ebens say something about the little mother... And Vincent said, "I'm not a little mother..." And he said, "Well, I don't know if you're a big one or a little one."
Then he said something about, "Well, because of y'all mother...we're out of work."
-There was a whole ripple effect of things that changed in the system because of what journalists were finding in the course of this story.
-We are talking about justice in America.
We hope you'll join us.
♪♪ -I don't know what kind of laws in America.
We are all citizen.
My husband stay in America 57 years.
He is with the American Army.
-He was in the American Army?
-I don't know what kind of law in America.
We pay the taxes same.
We're only the skin different.
But the heart is the same.
-Your skin is different, but the heart is the same.
-Miss Zia, let me make sure I understand what your strategy is here.
You can't try these young men -- the father and the stepson again.
The law does not allow for that.
My understanding, however, is that there may be some federal opportunities and that there are federal people in Detroit at this hour making an investigation to determine whether or not it might be possible to bring them to another court on another charge.
Is that so?
-The FBI has told CNN Detroit that it now plans an investigation into the beating death of Vincent Chin for possible civil-rights violations.
Robert Vito, CNN, Detroit.
-It just wasn't that type of case where, you know -- It wasn't a civil-rights case.
It was n-- You hear the stories about all the name calling and stuff like that.
Ron's not that way.
Just -- He's not the type of person that is outward prejudiced.
You know, you always -- you might have some little comments or something when you're alone, but he wouldn't go into a bar in a public place and call names and really make the type of gestures and things that were said during that time.
-To tell you the truth, I -- As far as the entire civil-rights law is concerned...
I knew there was one.
That's about all I can say.
I'd never been involved in anything that...
I needed to know about it.
It was just something that was there on the books.
It's a little different when you get hit with it.
-[ Speaking Mandarin ] [ Choir singing in Mandarin ] [ Applause ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct chanting ] [ Huey Lewis and the News' "The Heart of Rock & Roll" plays ] ♪ In Cleveland ♪ ♪ Detroit ♪ -Runners, take your mark.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Applause ] -Martin Luther King was killed.
Jesus the Christ was killed.
When your time has come, no bullet can stop you.
No jail cell can contain you.
No brave god can hold your body down.
For those who have been locked out, our time has come!
[ Cheers and applause ] -And the results, the sentences that -- They have three years of probation time to pay off as if they were buying a car.
-I will much continue to justice for my son.
This is not -- This is beginning.
-Ebens and Nitz now face arraignment in federal district court and will stand trial on charges they conspired to violate the civil rights of Vincent Chin.
If convicted, both face life terms in prison.
-In the first place, when you hear them say your name "versus United States of America"... uh... That's kind of a heavy feeling, you know?
Especially when you... You served in the Army.
You know, you have your feelings of loyalty to the country.
And it's like they're saying, you know, "We're against you," you know?
And it's hard to take.
It is hard to take.
Especially when you know that the charges are fabricated.
-All ACJ and the many people who supported us in this case ever wanted was to have this case looked at in a court of law the way it should have been done the first time.
-A federal court in Detroit is getting ready to decide whether two local men will ever have to serve a jail term for a killing they have already admitted to.
The victim, 27-year-old Vincent Chin, was clubbed to death with a baseball bat two years ago.
Now people around the country are awaiting the second trial in this very controversial case.
-I was one of the 12 regular jurors for the Vincent Chin civil-rights trial.
When we were actually deliberating, we were not dwelling on the details of the killing.
The killing was something that we knew had happened.
And I think that the facts of the killing had to be presented.
But we were interested in motivation.
-I couldn't say if it was premeditated.
It could have been.
I would say that the incidents that the problem started, which was down at the Fancy Pants -- and I don't know what happened down there -- there was enough time for them to cool off, whatever it was.
But I think Mr. Ebens and Mr. Nitz stalked Jimmy Choi and Vincent Chin.
-Vincent called me at work and asked me to go out with him.
He wanted to have a bachelor party with a few guys.
♪♪ -♪ When we are all alone ♪ -I was onstage dancing, and Chin and his friends were at the other end of the stage.
And so they had encouraged me to come down to their end of the stage to dance for them, you know, because they were having a party.
And so, you know, being in a new club, I felt a little leery, but it was alright, so I went down to dance for them.
And he wanted to give me a tip, which was cool with me.
You know, I wanted to accept the tip.
But when I went to accept the tip, he didn't want to give it to me the way I wanted to receive it.
You know, he wanted to put it in my G-string, you know?
And I had just started here and I was very uncomfortable.
So I kind of refused and told him, you know, "That's alright, you know.
Keep the tip."
And I left.
I went to the other end of the stage.
And then Ebens comes in.
-We walked in... -♪ I wanna get next to you ♪ -Things that really came out is that we weren't there but probably 10 minutes at the most.
-I remember seeing him walk through the door and walk all the way to the stage because he sat right in front of me, you know?
Obviously he had came in a couple days before, you know, and saw me dance and liked me, and we must have talked and got along.
Because he was, you know, boosting me up and encouraging me, and it made me feel good, you know, because he was making me -- "Yeah, Starlene.
What's been happening?
You know, party down."
Or whatever, you know?
-I think her name was Starlene.
That's all I remember.
And I wouldn't have known that if she hadn't been at the trial.
-And so I felt better.
Then Chin and his friends, you know -- Well, maybe not his friends, but someone in the corner -- I know it was him.
You know, they got upset.
"Oh, she's no way, you know... You don't know what you're talking about."
And Ebens, you know, is at the other end of the stage going, "What, man?
You don't know a good thing..." No, he called him "Boy."
"Boy, you don't know a good thing when you see one."
And Ebens go, "Okay."
Chin -- excuse me -- goes, "I'm not a boy," you know.
-I never once said anything directly to Vincent Chin, ever.
But later on in the night, I may have, but there was no obscene language.
It was just talk at then.
But at that point in time, I never said anything directly to Vincent Chin.
-Now, we tried -- We wanted to be fair to both sides, so we tried to come up with a story consistent with no civil-rights violation, consistent with no racial remarks, and we really couldn't do it.
-You know, Chin was mad at me because she was a square at the time.
Ebens liked me because, "Hey, that's Starlene.
She can dance.
You don't know.
Wait and see."
-I was close enough to hear Mr. Ebens say to Mr. Chin, "Because of you [bleep], we're out of work."
Mr. Chin replied, "I'm not a little [bleep]."
-I was looking at Ronald Ebens when he said, "I'm just not sure if you're a big [bleep] or a little [bleep]."
And then with that, Vincent stood up and walked around me and Jimmy and approached Ronald Ebens.
Ebens stood up, and Vincent shoved him in the chest, and Ebens shoved back, and they both started punching.
-All of a sudden, we hear "boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."
-A fight ensued.
Mr. Nitz jumped into the fight to help Mr. Ebens.
And Mr. Ebens raised a chair, and Vincent raised a chair to deflect it.
And somehow Mr. Ebens' stepson, Mr. Nitz, got hit with the chair, and after that, you know, a couple of punches were thrown between all of them, and then they were broken up by the parking-lot attendant.
-Ron Ebens is guilty of having too much to drink, being a macho man who wouldn't back down from a fight and wanted to avenge a fight and wanted to avenge his stepson.
And he's guilty of letting himself go too far and killing somebody with a baseball bat.
A serious crime, no doubt.
-The defense spent most of their opening and closing arguments trying to destroy the case made by the prosecution, pick holes in the story.
And their contention was that there was a fight that ended in violence but that there was no racial component of this.
-He's not guilty of doing this because of racial animus or racial feelings or racial bias or racial prejudice.
It so happens the person he was involved with was Chinese.
-I didn't see anybody throw blows, but I saw Chin standing in a position as to where he had just got through throwing a few blows, and Ebens was on the floor.
You know, he was on the floor.
And his stepson, I think, he was on the floor, too, on the other side somewhere, but he was, like, thrown off.
You know, and Chin was the only one standing, like, you know, the survivor.
Whatever they had done right there, he was the one who had won.
'Cause he -- Hey, they were kind of busted up, you know?
He kind of busted them up by himself His friends didn't help him because he was handling it himself.
-And all I remember is Mike coming over the top of me and pushing the guy off of me.
I remember absolutely nothing else of what happened inside there as far as the fight goes.
-If you were close enough, you could've heard it, because I was close enough, 'cause matter of fact, Mr. Ebens would've been the next person I was gonna talk to before the fight broke out.
-The key witness in my view was Racine Colwell, who was one of the dancers.
And the jury did agree that her testimony was credible.
The -- The feeling, I think, about the other dancers and -- and Vincent Chin's friends, as well, is that they were not as credible in general.
Well, Racine Colwell testified that she had heard me say, "It's because of you little so-and-sos that we're out of work."
I guess if you want to construe that as a racial slur, I don't know how you could do that.
But I never said that, period.
-The problem with his testimony is that his memory was very selective.
He had a lot to drink the night of the killing, and he testified that he didn't remember many details of the evening.
But when asked about various racial remarks that other witnesses said they had heard, he said he was "sure" that he didn't say these things, and that was received skeptically by the jury.
We felt that his memory was too selective.
-What really -- What happened there was... if you take what's happening and -- and all the anger and everything building up inside of you... and you mix that with the alcohol and the adrenaline pumping -- And believe me, when the adrenaline pumps like that, you just -- you know, you just -- It just seems like things just, uh... God.
It's so hard to explain.
It's not something you plan on happening, but it happens.
It's... ♪♪ As Mike and I left the Fancy Pants Lounge that night, we stepped outside, and Vincent was standing there.
And the words that his other friend, Jimmy Choi, said he spoke was... "Come on, you chicken[bleep].
Let's fight some more."
-And we were outside for a minute or two when Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz came out.
They went to their car, which was only about 10 or 15 feet from the door, and opened their hatchback and got a baseball bat.
Michael Nitz had it, and he started walking toward Vincent.
Vincent said, you know, "If you want to fight, I'll fight, but put the baseball bat down."
And he started rushing toward Vincent.
Vincent ran across the street.
-He was looking for trouble that night.
-And Ebens couldn't catch him.
-♪ Makin' Thunderbirds ♪ ♪ We were makin' Thunderbirds ♪ -When we seen Vincent and Jimmy standing in front of McDonald's, they were sitting there laughing.
All I could think of was, "Boy, they're laughing.
They really put it over on us."
I told Mike, "Pull the car over."
Vincent took off running, and Jimmy took off running down the street.
-♪ We were makin' Thunderbirds ♪ At that point, things just, uh... Just like an audible click in my head.
-That's how Ronald Ebens today explained why on June 19, 1982, he beat Vincent Chin so severely with a baseball bat that four days later Chin died.
Taking the witness stand today in his own defense, Ebens told a federal jury that when he beat Chin, "Something almost audible, it snapped."
-Both Ebens and Nitz had been drinking.
I wouldn't say to the extent that they were drunk.
They knew what they were doing, and they did it.
-Was it a case of racism or a barroom brawl?
That's the question now for a jury of seven women and five men to decide.
This is Kathy Walsh reporting live.
Back to you, Rich.
Thank you for that report.
If Ebens and Nitz are found guilty of the federal civil-rights charges, they could each face life in prison.
-When they read through that verdict, it was not guilty, not guilty, not guilty, guilty.
And, you know, when they got through three not-guiltys, boy, we thought, "God, we did it.
Did we do this?"
And then when they said the fourth "guilty," it was sort of like the anvil fell that we were always waiting for that was going to fall.
-We felt that when Mike Nitz held Vincent Chin in the bear hug, that that fact implicated him in the killing, but we weren't -- he wasn't on trial for the killing.
He was on trial for a motivation behind it.
And we didn't feel that that was sufficient to establish a racial motivation.
-It's just hard to believe after a year that they could finally come up with something.
It's -- That's -- It's really unbelievable.
-In my own mind, I think that if any number of fair people review the testimony given in this federal court, they're going to wonder how I ever come up with a guilty verdict.
I mean, they've got to.
'Cause I sat there and listened to every word of that testimony because, like you said, my life was at stake, okay?
And there was not one word of proven testimony that could prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt that there was any racism involved in this.
-The one thing that has pulled together, through sheer concern, all Asian-Americans in this country and brought press and so forth from overseas and concern from overseas is the belief that Vincent Chin would be alive today if he were not Asian.
And there is no question about that in any of our minds.
-Do you think this trial would have occurred had not your group and other Asian-Americans gotten involved and brought pressure to bear here and around the country?
-I don't think any civil-rights trial occurs unless there's pressure.
-Will you appeal it?
We're absolutely going to appeal.
The case is not over.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Outrage -- That is the cry coming from Metro Detroit's Chinese-American community this evening.
A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for Ronald Ebens.
He's the man convicted of beating Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat four years ago.
Eyewitness News reporter Al Allen says the new trial was ordered because of trial errors.
♪♪ ♪♪ -I ask you... ...how could you feel... ...as a mom?
-Five, four, three, two, one.
This jury of nine men and three women could end the five-year journey of the Vincent Chin case.
Either Ronald Ebens will walk out of Cincinnati a free man or he could be found guilty of violating the civil rights of Vincent Chin, which carries life in prison.
-How's it going?
How's it going with you?
What's happening with the case?
-Oh, we're -- we're moving along.
-Are you making a comment?
-I can't, no.
Be glad to talk to you when we're finished.
-What 12 people from Cincinnati who are really not familiar with Detroit of 1982, who some of whom may have never met an Asian person in their lives, I have no idea.
And that's what -- That's what has me nervous.
Just don't know.
I think all the evidence is there.
I think, you know, you can run over it and think that, well, maybe there should have been more of this and less of that, but I think everything that needed to be said was introduced.
-I've learned that if Ronald Ebens walks out of this courtroom a free man, the government prosecutors will not appeal the case.
From Cincinnati, Al Allen, Channel 2 Eyewitness News.
-Three, four, five, six, seven.
[ Indistinct conversations ] -We gonna do it right here?
-Just checking in.
Any changes in the procedure?
[ Indistinct conversations ] -Would you repeat the verdict?
-Not guilty, both counts.
-Not guilty on both.
You got 'em?
♪♪ -How can a young man be beaten to death with a baseball bat by another man and not have his civil rights violated?
That is a question that a lot of people are asking tonight.
Good evening, everybody.
After a series of trials and appeals, legal maneuvers, bargaining, and courtroom battles, a man from East Detroit is free of criminal charges tonight for the first time since he killed another man with a baseball bat in Highland Park nearly five years ago.
-You mean, you got to realize how relieved I am, you know, after four years of waiting for this to be over with.
And that's really all I have to say on it.
-Ron, why didn't you testify?
-There was nothing I could have added.
Everything had been said by everybody else.
It would've just been a cumulative testimony.
-Ron, how are you gonna pick back up your life now?
What -- Are you gonna go back to work or what?
-I haven't had a chance to think that far ahead.
-You must be so pleased, though, Ron.
[ Chuckles ] I feel great.
-I mean, it's a tragedy.
Really, it is.
And I think it all boils down to, is, we have six men out for the night, and unfortunately one died, and the other five do not know what happened.
And I think that's the whole ball of wax right there.
You want a kiss?
-No, don't do that.
-Detroit -- it's got the reputation of murder capital of the world.
It's like -- And I didn't even do it on purpose!
You know, I didn't walk up and shoot somebody.
-The press has always reported this case one-sided since the beginning, and it's really nice to get 12 people who agree with the way we look at this case.
-You know, kind of surprising.
That's what I expected.
I read the jury the other day when they were doing the instructions, and the jury looked like they would find him innocent.
That comes from reading a lot of jurors in your days covering the streets, you know?
[ Chuckles ] I think the town had a lot to do with it.
You know, conservative city.
Had a lot to do with it.
And obviously no publicity.
Folks were not aware what was going on.
They don't understand the auto industry, the layoffs that were going on at that time.
So they saw it differently than perhaps a jury would in Detroit, yeah.
All the appeals are over with.
This is it.
Ronald Ebens is a free man as of tonight.
-Al, just for clarification, Ebens is not going to do one day in jail, then, for the baseball beating death of Chin five years ago.
-You're absolutely correct, Kathy.
He will not serve one day in jail.
-Being asked if justice failed somewhere in this case, I don't see anywhere it did fail.
I think the system worked the way it should have worked.
Right down the line.
-Please all... of you... good and honest people... [ Camera shutter clicking ] ♪♪ ♪♪ Please... ♪♪ -It seems Mrs. Chin is having some difficulties speaking.
Um, I think what she had said at the beginning was the court failed the first time.
It seemed like the second time the court fails again.
Maybe we'll field questions.
If anybody wants to ask her something, she may have to -- -No.
I want everybody tell the government... ...to not to drop this case.
I want justice for Vincent.
I want justice for my son.
Thank you for... ♪♪ -No matter where you go, take a good part of Detroit with you and show them that we are somebody.
We're gonna do this.
Yeah, home is where you hang your hat.
Let's do it, y'all.
♪♪ Clap your hands!
♪♪ -♪ Sugar pie, honey bunch ♪ -♪ Sugar pie, honey bunch ♪ -♪ You know that I love you ♪ -♪ Love you ♪ -♪ I can't help myself ♪ ♪ I love you and nobody else ♪ ♪ In and out my life ♪ -I don't think there is such a thing called objectivity.
Journalism stretches objectivity.
But if you're a storyteller, you got to start it with your own [bleep] first, okay?
And then you're able to deconstruct what is problem with it.
Once you have it, then you're able to arrive a universal understanding.
I said film is not built on logic.
It's built on emotion.
This particular film, "Who Killed Vincent Chin?"
-- the title is rather strange because, yes, Ronald Ebens physically killed him, okay?
But there's a whole lot of other issues involved.
It's who killed Vincent Chin?
It's the system.
-In the 1980s -- still to this day, but in the 1980s in particular, race in America was seen as being black and white.
The Vincent Chin case was so profound in terms of building the consciousness around hate crimes and that Asian-Americans were targets of hate crimes.
It was the first time an Asian-American was a part of a civil-rights criminal prosecution because we were seen as being, like, the model minority.
-Asian-Americans are very complex.
We are not monolithic.
For the Asian audience, I think that it's very important today that we're also able to record our history.
By having making this film and it became part of a record and it became part of American history, many of young Asians entered law school and became criminal lawyer.
There was Wen Ho Lee case, who was accused as spy, and I made a short film about him.
And I went to interview his lawyer.
He thanked me.
He said, "Because of your film, I became a criminal lawyer."
Yeah, that's really satisfying to hear, you know, that something -- that good things, you know, actually come out of it.
-In the 1980s, we were looking at how you can get justice through the -- the court system, through, you know, longer prison sentences for hate crimes, that kind of thing.
And so now we're thinking, "Well, does justice -- Is that how we get justice?"
I think that today, especially younger Asian-Americans the younger generation is really trying to reimagine how you get justice, and not necessarily through, you know, incarceration, not necessarily through more and more police in different communities, but dealing with the roots of hate and dealing with the roots of injustice, and, you know, how to advance justice today and in the future.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪