Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, charities have raised about $2 billion for victims, families of the dead, and others affected by the attacks. A woman in Chicago is leading a campaign to make some of that money available to others she says suffered because of September 11.
Chicago-area writer and activist Anya Cordell said the victims of September 11 can be found beyond New York, Washington and the Pennsylvania field where a fourth hijacked plane crashed that day. She said there were at least 14 people killed in post-attack backlash against Muslims or people who looked Muslim. "The most famous case was in Mesa, Arizona," she said. "It was a Sikh gentleman, who owned a service station. He was planting flowers outside his service station, and he was murdered in cold blood."
Ms. Cordell has founded the Campaign for Collateral Compassion, and is asking charities like the American Red Cross to share some of the hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars they have raised for September 11 victims with the families of those killed in "backlash" violence. "They were killed as a direct result of September 11," she said. "Their deaths flowed out of those events, and they were also victims of terrorism. They would not have died, if not for the events of September 11."
The American Red Cross declined to provide an official to be interviewed for this story, but did send VOA a statement saying, in part: "The American Red Cross deeply regrets and opposes any hate crimes based on ethnicity. But the money raised for September 11 victims has been earmarked for terrorist attack survivors or families of the dead; people who live or work near the World Trade Center in New York who have been economically hurt as a result of the attacks, and rescue and recovery workers."
Still, Ms. Cordell said those killed after September 11 in retaliatory violence are no different from those killed in the attacks themselves. "They were not a natural disaster, they were not an earthquake or hurricane," she said. "They were, in essence, a massive hate crime. So the Red Cross and all the other charities are already aiding hate crime victims."
Ms. Cordell has been speaking throughout the Chicago area, urging people to write the American Red Cross and ask it to change its policy for distributing money for September 11 victims.