memorial for the first post-9/11 hate crime victim

Ten years ago on this day, September 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot and killed outside of his gas station in Mesa, Arizona -- the first murder victim due to post-9/11 backlash.

In a misguided attempt at retaliation for the September 11 attacks, Frank Roque said he wanted to "kill a Muslim," and targeted Sodhi simply because he had a turban and beard in accordance with his Sikh faith.

Roque was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the hate crime.

Today in Arizona, a memorial service will be held to commemorate the victims of September 11, and to remember Balbir Singh Sodhi and all victims of post-9/11 backlash: Memorial for First 9/11 Backlash Murder Victim.
This Thursday, September 15, 2011, individuals from across Arizona and the country will be participating in a memorial service at 7 p.m. at 7955 E. University Drive, Mesa, Arizona, to commemorate the victims of 9/11 and to remember Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Follow comments on social media with: #BalbirSinghSodhi

Balbir Singh Sodhi represents all the victims of post-9/11 backlash, from those who lost their lives to those who continue to suffer from bullying and discrimination today. As we honor his memory, let us reflect on the common concern and unity we felt with our neighbors at that time.

SALDEF hopes that all Americans heed the words of Balbir's brother, Rana, and "bring the whole community together…take care of our extended community and to work to understand one another better. And when I say 'community,' I... mean... the whole American community."
For more information about the memorial service, go to the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund website here. To learn more about the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi and the subsequent hate crime case, go here.

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