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In New York, You’re Never More Than Five and a Half Blocks From a Starbucks, Data Says

In New York, You’re Never More Than Five and a Half Blocks From a Starbucks, Data Says


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A college student has crunched numbers to figure out how many Starbucks are in Manhattan and the results won’t surprise you

If you’re a New Yorker, you know there’s no escaping the call of the green siren.

We know that Starbucks is ubiquitous, but nowhere is the presence of America’s largest coffee chain felt more than in New York City. One college student set out to prove that Starbucks is literally everywhere in the five boroughs through hard, cold-pressed data.

CUNY Baruch College student Aleksey Bilogur analyzed Yelp to discover just how many Starbucks’ there are in Manhattan (more than 200), and how far any random caffeine-deprived pedestrian is from a location at any given time: The answer is an average of 5.6 blocks, or a little over two avenues.

How did he accomplish this? Bilogur created a data cloud of 2,000 random points on the island of Manhattan and used an algorithm to determine the distance to the closest Starbucks location. He then calculated the average of each data set and voila! came up with the magic number of 1,335 feet, or about 5.6 blocks.

Surprisingly, Starbucks is not the number one chain restaurant on the list. Bilogur repeated the same process for multiple chain stores and found that pedestrians are never more than 5.3 blocks from a Dunkin’ Donuts or 4.8 blocks from a Subway. You’ll stumble upon a McDonald’s at least every 6.4 blocks, and a Chipotle location every 14.4 blocks. Unfortunately, you may have to walk 39 blocks to get a salad from Chopt.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

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Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.


Sikhs in America: A History of Hate

T he 1907 episode in a seaside timber town in Washington came to be known as the Bellingham Riots. Really, though, there were no riots. There was a pogrom.

At the time, the U.S. was suffering through deep economic distress, a panic-filled recession that had begun the year before. Angry anti-immigrant sentiment was ascendant. And hundreds of Sikh men who had traveled from India to Bellingham to toil in the lumber mills paid the price.

Documenting Hate

Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. ProPublica is collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations. Learn more.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica’s major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Some 500 white men, many of them members of the local Asiatic Exclusion League, descended on the Sikhs and other South Asians, routing them from the bunkhouses where they roomed and chasing them into the streets. Within hours, the entire Sikh population of Bellingham had fled, frantically piling onto trains and boats in search of some sort of refuge. Many had been physically battered.

I knew nothing about this incident until I visited Washington state this spring and met with members of the Sikh community there. For them, it was easy to draw at least some parallels between that century-old ugliness and recent events. Immigrants were again being demonized. Lost jobs were fueling white working-class despair and resentment. Hate crimes were reported to be up. Yelling, “Get out of my country!” a gunman had shot two Indian software engineers in an Applebee’s restaurant in Kansas. Closer to home, in Kent, a suburb of Seattle, a man had shot a Sikh in an apparent hate crime.

A few weeks after the shooting, on a gray March day, I met Hira Singh Bhullar at a café in Kent. “The shooting happened four or five blocks from here,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the crime scene with his finger.

Bhullar, who works in the IT department at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, was shaken. He’d lived for a time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He never felt entirely safe there, always worried that somebody would accost or attack him.

But Bhullar had never felt threatened in Washington. Sure, some racists had posted mean comments on his Facebook page when he ran for the Kent City Council. Still, he didn’t take that kind of internet obnoxiousness too seriously. Now, though, things seemed different. He worried about what seemed to him to be a metastasizing meanness towards immigrants and members of minority religions.

Persecution is something Sikhs know well. Their faith began with the teachings of Guru Nanak, born to a peasant family in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that stretches from eastern Pakistan to the northwest edge of India. Nanak’s message was decidedly oppositional, challenging the authority of the region’s two dominant religions, Hinduism and Islam some scholars compare Nanak’s spiritual revolution to Christianity’s protestant reformation, which was unfolding in Europe at the same time.

Equality — between man and woman, preacher and congregant, ruler and serf, high-born and the untouchable — was central to Nanak’s theology. What has developed over the past 500 years is a monotheistic faith with a heavy emphasis on social justice. Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, make a point of feeding anyone who needs a meal.

Of course, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Early Sikh gurus, or prophets, were tortured to death by the region’s rulers.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., many in New York and California. In recent years, Yuba City, California, a small city in the middle of the Sacramento Valley, has become a major hub for Sikhs — Yuba City’s annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a key holy event, draws as many as 150,000 people from around the world.

In the U.S., Sikhs are a frequent target for xenophobes and haters. They are often immigrants or the children of immigrants. They tend to have brown skin. And their garb and personal grooming practices set them apart. Following the directives of the gurus, observant male Sikhs do not cut their hair — ever — and many keep their locks covered by a turban whenever they leave the house. They also typically refrain from shaving, often growing robust beards.

Initially, the look was intended to distinguish Sikhs from the adherents of other religions. But in America, the bulk of the populace knows little to nothing about Sikhism, so they see a person with a turban and assume he’s a Hindu or a Muslim.

For a multitude of reasons, there are no credible statistics regarding the number of hate crimes directed at Sikhs each year. But it is not hard to appreciate the very real fact of those crimes. Talk to a member of the faith. They’ll likely know of an incident. They for sure will know of their history of victimization. They might have a personal connection that explains the threat they feel at this moment.

I spent time with three of them in recent months. I also researched the life of the American man who murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. What follows are four profiles, stories of hurt and worry and resilience.