Learn About The Bellingham Riot



South Asian Migrant workers in America are well-known for their strength, intelligence, and diligence. Working in America also gives them a whole lot of opportunities compared to their country during the 1907s. However, with the increasing diversity around Washington, especially in Bellingham, a lot of white people were not happy.

That is why on September 4th, 1907, around 500 white working men in Bellingham planned a riot in order to drive South Asian Migrants lumber workers away. Forcing them to move to a different city and “scaring them so badly they will not crowd white labor out of the mills”. The scary tactics they did are breaking windows, throwing rocks, beating the Hindu people, pulling men out of their workplace and a lot of horrible things. Police forces at that time were not strong enough but were also white that protects white. The South Asian workers understood then that there was no protection for them in Bellingham, no law and no people would protect them. They migrated away from Bellingham and tried to find a state or place where it is much safer for their living conditions.

Photo of Sikh laborers escaping from the riot. Taken from Sikh Channel.
The racism towards South Asian did not end there and did not end with just Americans. News coverage, like New York Times, about the riot during that time basically protects the white men that violated Sikh workers by saying “White workers are being replaced in the mills by the Asiatics”. Americans, even other races, believe that there are “low-caste” and “high-caste” Asians. And that Hindus and Sikh people are on the “low-caste” meaning “people who are weak physically and mentally”.


Photo taken from Timeline

In 1900s, it is clear who the laws of United States protects, the white people and it’s white power. Creating boundaries and privilege for them and them only. With recent times, Planned riots may not be in place, but there is still racism, hate, and microaggressions felt in the South Asian community. Open your eyes, and Don’t forget.


Written by: Issa Calipay

Issa Calipay is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is an incoming 4th Year student of Advertising and Public Relations from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sta. Mesa.

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OBRAA.org: Learn About The Bellingham Riot
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