In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Muslims, Arabs, and Sikhs became targets for hate across the country. Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first person to be murdered in a hate crime in this aftermath.
On the morning of September 15, 2001, Balbir donated the contents of his wallet to the victims of the attacks. He then went to the gas station he owned in Mesa, Arizona and began planting a garden out in front, when a man who was seeking retaliation for 9/11 drove by in his pickup truck and shot and killed Balbir, assuming he was a Muslim man. Balbir was a follower of the Sikh religion and wore a turban as part of his faith.
At StoryCorps, Balbir’s brothers, Rana and Harjit Sodhi, sat down to remember him.
Later that day, Balbir’s killer also shot at people who were of Middle Eastern descent. They all survived. The murderer is currently serving out a life sentence in Buckeye, Arizona.
Originally aired September 14, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top Photo: Rana Sodhi (L) and Harjit Sodhi holding a photograph of their late brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, in Mesa, Arizona. Photo by Mia Warren for StoryCorps.