Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is signing a bill to remove Balbir Singh Sodhi’s name from the state’s 9/11 memorial and sell his memorial plaque as scrap metal. [saldef]
Balbir Singh Sodhi was the one of the first victim to a post 9/11 hate crime.
[He]was a Mesa, Arizona, gas station owner who was murdered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He made headlines because he was the first of several cases across the United States that were reported to the police as acts of retaliation for the terrorist attacks
On September 15, 2001, Frank Roque shot him five times, killing him instantly. Roque, who apparently wanted revenge for September 11, confused him for a person of Arab ethnicity because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners. [wiki]
How could anyone object that Sodhi’s death was not a directly connected to the events of September 11th?
The bill, which passed both houses on party-line votes, was sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who said Monday that he did only a cursory Internet search on Singh Sodhi’s murder. Kavanagh said it was unclear to him that the shooting was directly related to 9/11.
“He was the victim of a madman. He was not a 9/11 victim,” Kavanagh said. “I don’t mean to (dismiss) what happened to this individual. I don’t mean to trivialize it.”> Kavanagh disagrees with arguments by Sikhs that as many as 17 members of their religion were murdered nationally in the aftermath of Sept. 11. A Sikh truck driver was wounded in a shooting in north Phoenix in 2003 by men who shouted a racial slur as well as other, less-violent hate crimes that occurred in Valley. [azcentral]
The bill would not just solely remove Sodhi’s experience from the memorial but would remove other narratives that were not to Kavanagh liking as well. This is an outrageous attempt at rewriting history and re-construction of a narrative that leaves out the experiences of the South Asian American community and our September 11th narrative. With all the work that has been done as far as advocacy against 9/11 backlash, hate crimes, and racial profiling in the past ten years, this bill would essentially be backstepping and “cleaning up” history. Considering this is happening in Arizona where xenophobic legislation are a dime a dozen these days, I’m not all that surprised. But I do think that Governor Jane Brewer should not sign this bill. If you think this as well, you can sign the petition hosted through SALDEF right here.
The above image is the portion of the memorial dedicated to Balbir Singh Sodhi. Controversial and reminding us of the bad part of being American? Yes. Something that should be removed from memory? Hardly.
Looks like the advocacy from yesterday paid off, somewhat. Rep. John Kavanagh apologized.
A state representative who introduced a controversial bill to alter the Arizona 9/11 Memorial apologized on Tuesday to the family of hate-crime murder victim Balbir Singh Sodhi, saying he misunderstood the case.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, also said he agreed to a plan that would put Singh Sodhi’s name back on the memorial even if Gov. Jan Brewer signs his bill into law.
House Bill 2230 would remove 11 phrases Kavanagh considers offensive from the steel memorial. [azcentral]
How does the family feel? They feel that it’s STILL WRONG AND ARE URGING A VETO. The bill is supposed to get signed on Monday by Gov. Brewer.
Kavanagh said he met with Rana Singh Sodhi, his brother Harjit, and Gururoop Kaur Khalsa, a Sikh community spokeswoman.
Rana Singh Sodhi, Balbir Singh Sodhi’s youngest brother and a Mesa restaurant owner, said he still opposes Kavanagh’s bill, which would require panels on the memorial to be removed by Sept. 11, 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
By agreeing to introduce follow-up legislation in January to correct the slight vs. Balbir Singh Sodhi in the original legislation, Kavanagh is admitting the original bill is flawed, Rana Singh Sodhi said. [azcentral]
At the end of the day, Kavanagh is proposing an amendment to a legislation he authored which not only highlights his neglect as a legislator at conducting research when developing public policies, but also highlights a reactionary governing mentality. Second, he still proposes moving forward with the other ten ‘edits’ to the memorial because to him they were “unpatriotic”. Memorials are erected as a remembrance of history at that time – just because a politician has the power, doesn’t mean he gets to go in and revise history to his liking. If the people in power are taking steps to revise history only ten years after the event, where does that leave this narrative in 20 years? 50 years? 100 years?