An Indian American Sikh on the Hoboken, N.J., City Council who is running for mayor of the town was labeled a terrorist in a flier that circulated the area as early as Nov. 3.
Ravi Bhalla, who posted a picture of the flier in a Nov. 4 tweet, said, "Of course this is troubling, but we won't let hate win."
The flier, which shows a picture of Bhalla in a suit as well as his tradition Sikh turban garb and a beard, says, "Don't let TERRORISM take over our Town!"
Bhalla continued to thwart any would-be fears of himself stemming from the flier with tweets on Twitter.
“I want people to know Hoboken is a welcoming community where my wife and I are proud to raise our children,” he tweeted. “No matter your race (or) ethnicity, you are welcome here in our city. As mayor I will work hard to keep it that way.”
Authorities are reportedly investigating the fliers’ distribution as possible biased harassment, according to a splinternews.com report.
Hoboken police said it is in the early stages of the investigation to track down the culprit or culprits who placed the leaflet on car windshields days ahead of the Nov. 7 election.
Text in the upper left-hand corner of leaflet falsely claims it was paid for by Michael DeFusco, Bhalla’s opponent, according to the report.
DeFusco has denied the claims and added in a statement that the city "is far better than this and whoever made this flier is not only insulting one of my opponents in a despicable way, they are also painting me as a racist, which as the only openly gay elected official in Hudson County and a progressive Democrat simply could not be further from the truth," the report noted.
Bhalla also received support from Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, saying in a tweet, “My friend Ravi Bhalla is running for Hoboken mayor. This vile hateful flyer was put out. I condemn it! We all must condemn bigotry and hate!”
The mayoral candidate who currently sits on the Hoboken City Council announced his bid for mayor June 20. He has been endorsed by outgoing Mayor Dawn Zimmer who is not seeking a third term in office.
Bhalla will face off against Anthony Romano, who currently serves as a Freeholder – a part-time legislator in the county government. Hoboken Councilmembers DeFusco and Jen Giattino, restaurauteur Karen Nason and activist Ronald Bautista are also vying for the seat.
In a statement released Nov. 6, Asian Pacific American bars said they are deeply disturbed by the distribution of this second racist flyer targeting an Asian American candidate in New Jersey. The South Asian Bar Association of North America and the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey along with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association condemn the Hoboken fliers, the statement said. “The Asian Pacific American legal community is disgusted by this racist attack that continues to promote a false association between religion and acts of terror. Associating a candidate, or anyone, with horrific criminal acts based solely on their appearance is racist and xenophobic,” said Pankit Doshi, NAPABA president.
This is the second time in less than a week that racist advertisements have attacked Asian-American candidates. “There is no place for this type of racism in our country, whose history is defined by the immigrant communities that have settled it. Our country’s diversity should be represented in our elected candidates. The candidate and voter intimidation in these flyers cannot be tolerated and should not discourage anyone from participating in the democratic process,” said SABA president Rishi Bagga.