9/11 Tag

Today we interviewed SHER SINGH (pictured) who was arrested on September 12, 2001 as the first suspected terrorist after the 9/11 attacks. He was riding a Boston-bound train when it stopped in Providence, Rhode Island. He was wearing a turban and kirpan, both articles of Sikh faith. His ‘suspicious’ appearance had caught the attention of the FBI who sent federal agents and local police with bomb-sniffing dogs to the station to intercept him. Officers rushed the entrance of the train and pointed rifles at the man: “Get your

Today we continued our production travels on the road with a trip to Yale Law School , where we interviewed the Dean of Yale Law School, HAROLD HONGJU KOH, a champion of human and civil rights. I first met Dean Koh at Yale Law School's admit day this spring, and after hearing him speak, I was certain of two things: that I wanted to study at YLS next year and that this documentary film needed his voice. He offered a larger perspective on the shift in law

Today we filmed the streets and skyline of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and finally we returned to Ground Zero. There we met AMRIK CHAWLA (pictured), a Brooklyn-raised Sikh American, who first told me his story in December 2001. Amrik was probably the very first victim of a hate crime after 9/11. It happened only minutes after the second plane hit the Towers. That Tuesday morning, Amrik was in a cab three blocks south of the Towers, on his way to work when traffic stopped. He saw the

It is the eve of the fourth anniversary of September 11, the event that changed the world for many people and shifted the entire course of my life. In the aftermath of 9/11, I journeyed across America with my camera, documenting stories of hate violence against minority communities, including my own. Now four years later, I am a graduate student making a feature film about my journey. Still consumed by these stories and their questions, I traveled with my film crew to revisit Ground Zero on August

Today we drove into Richmond Hill, New York, to meet the three Sikh men Amardeep Singh at the Sikh Coalition told us about yesterday. The Sikh Coalition represents Rajinder Singh Khalsa, Kevin Harrington, and Amric Singh Rathour (pictured). Each case centers on the turban, the religious uniform for many Sikh men. Here are sketches of their three stories.     We met RAJINDER SINGH KHALSA (pictured) in front of his brother’s restaurant, where he told us what happened to him on July 11, 2004. On the street, several men accosted

We have arrived in New York City to begin production on the East Coast. After we picked up our equipment, we had our first interview with AMARDEEP SINGH (pictured), legal director of the SIKH COALITION, a civil rights organization created in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I had first met Amar and other founding members of the Coalition in December 2001, when I interviewed them at a round table after one of their first meetings. Back then, they were a group of young Sikh professionals who came together

We spent this afternoon with the AKHTER family, a Muslim American family in Gilroy, California, who I first visited in October 2001. I remember eight-year old SAMIR (pictured) the most: "The kids call me bin Laden’s son, and all of their friends were putting their lunch pails on my face like this, and they called me bin Laden’s face. They smashed lunch pails on my face so that I couldn’t breathe. I said no, I’m not the bad guy, and I don’t want to be a bad guy.

After a weeklong break in production, we hit the road again. We spent five days in Phoenix, Arizona, to revisit THE SODHI FAMILY whose story set this film in motion nearly four years ago. On September 15, 2001, BALBIR SINGH SODHI (pictured) was standing in front of his gas station, preparing to plant flowers. A man in a black truck pulled around the corner and shot him five times. Balbir, 52 years old, was the first person to be killed in a post-9/11 hate crime. When arrested, the

It is the day before production begins. Today we went to Kodak to pick up the film. Sharat and I stopped inside the office first to thank Candace, the woman who decided to give us our film stock at almost half the price. I met her for the first time and shook her hand. "This film is four years in the making. Thank you so much for making this possible." We have come this far because of people like her. People who helped us for no other reason

Once again, I am living out of my suitcase. This happens a lot. Ever since September 11, 2001, my suitcase has been my home. That single event, that single day, has determined every part of my life. What I study. What I do. Who I know myself to be. And where I am. On this particular night, I am in Los Angeles, writing from a production office—a film production office. The place is an organized mess. Two rooms packed with editing equipment, camera gear, computers, stacks of papers