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Activists Recall Detroit Killing

June 24, 2002

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DETROIT (AP) _ Civil rights activists pledged to fight hate crimes as they remembered a Chinese-American man who was beaten to death 20 years ago by two men who blamed Japanese competition for the plight of the U.S. auto industry.

The unemployed former autoworkers who beat Vincent Chin with a baseball bat in 1982 had mistaken him for Japanese.

``Vincent Chin’s story is as real, horrifying and socially relevant as the day it happened,″ said Fe Rowland, board member of the American Citizens for Justice Inc., a civil rights group founded in 1983 after Chin’s assailants were sentenced.

Jackie Poliwoda, who stood hand-in-hand Sunday with others in a circle around Chin’s grave, said she was encouraged and motivated by the weekend’s message to fight hate crimes.

``It happens in a lot of minorities’ lives on a daily basis, and I didn’t realize that and now I do,″ said Poliwoda, a student at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

The weekend conference held at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, called a ``Rededication to Justice,″ also honored activists for raising awareness about injustices motivated by hate and discrimination.

Ismael Ileto, his wife Deena and mother Lilian Ileto received a justice award from the American Citizens For Justice.

Ismael Ileto’s brother, Joseph Ileto, was killed Aug. 10, 1999, when a white supremacist went on a shooting spree at a Jewish community center in southern California, wounding five people.

Alberta Lee, the daughter of scientist Wen Ho Lee, and Catherine Matthews, fiancee of Won-Joon Yoon, also received justice awards.

Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was indicted in 1999 on 59 counts of mishandling nuclear weapons secrets. Lee pleaded guilty to one count of illegal downloading and was released after being jailed nine months.

Won-Joon Yoon, a Korean student at Indiana University, was shot in the back by a white supremacist as he walked into church in 1999.


On the Net:

Vincent Chin memorial events: http://www.rededication.cjb.net

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