Mesa Memorial To Honor Balbir Singh Sodhi, Sikh Man Killed In Hate Crime After 9/11

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Sunday, September 12, 2021 - 10:47am
Updated: Monday, September 13, 2021 - 8:07am

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monument for Balbir Singh Sodhi outside the Mesa gas station
Joanne Ingram/Cronkite News
A monument stands outside the Mesa gas station where Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh from India, was murdered days after 9/11 in a hate killing.

Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the first recorded case of post-9/11 retaliation, when Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man profiled as Muslim, was killed outside of his own gas station in Mesa.

An event at that same gas station will be held Wednesday evening and will include speeches from some of Sodhi’s family members.

Inderpreet Kaur is with the Sikh Coalition, the organization hosting the event. She says the Sodhi family has held a remembrance every year since 2001, but has decided to expand the event this year.

→ Young Sikhs Still Struggle With Post-Sept. 11 Discrimination

"I think it’s solely to make sure that they don’t lose the opportunity to speak on not just the legacy of Balbir Singh Sodhi, but what work has the community done since 9/11," said Kaur.

Kaur says the event near 80th Street and University Drive in east Mesa is intended for reflection and education, especially for a younger generation who were not alive in 2001.

Balbir Singh Sodhi
Joanne Ingram/Cronkite News
Arizona's monument to the 9/11 attacks contains the name of Sikh entrepreneur Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was killed at his Arizona gas station on Sept. 15, 2001.

The Sikh Coalition was formed shortly after 9/11 as support and legal aid for victims of retaliatory hate crimes.

After the 2001 attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was among the first of Sikhs, Arab Muslims and others targeted in hate crimes.

Airplane mechanic Frank Roque was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing and was sentenced to death before that was commuted to life imprisonment. Roque also was accused of drive-by shootings the same day at an Afghan family’s home and a Lebanese man’s convenience store, although no one was injured in those attacks.

Associated Press contributed to this report.