Racist flyer circulates in Hoboken on eve of mayoral election; denounced by various candidates

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Racist flyer circulates in Hoboken on eve of mayoral election; denounced by various candidates
The election flyers in #Hoboken keep getting dirtier.

HOBOKEN — On Friday night, some residents of Hoboken received flyers on car windshields (which we’ve declined to post here) with the words “Don’t let TERRORISM take over this town” printed above one of the city’s mayoral candidates, Ravi Bhalla. The flyers appear designed to stoke xenophobic fears against the candidate, who wears a turban because he is a Sikh Indian.
Bhalla, a Democrat, faces five other candidates for mayor in Tuesday’s election. He has sent out numerous mailers saying he will stand up to Donald Trump if Trump’s policies stand to hurt Hoboken residents.
Bhalla addressed the flyers in a Facebook post on Saturday: “Of course, this is troubling, but I want to be clear: We won’t let hate win in Hoboken. I want people to know that Hoboken is a welcoming community where my wife and I are proud to raise our two young children. No matter your religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, you are welcome here in our city.”
The flyers appear to have been designed by taking an old ad from one of Bhalla’s opponents (an ad that did NOT, in its original form, include racist or xenophobic language) and adding the words about terrorism to it above a picture of Bhalla.
Whoever made the ad included the name of Councilman Michael DeFusco, one of Bhalla’s opponents, to make it appear that DeFusco created the ad. However, DeFusco was swift to say the ad did not come from his campaign and to vocally denounce it.
DeFusco, the town’s first openly gay candidate for mayor, said on his Facebook page, “A disgusting, racist flier was found on car windshields tonight that altered one of my campaign’s mailers and added a racial epithet aimed at Ravi Bhalla. I condemn this piece of racist garbage in the strongest possible terms. Hoboken 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. I called Councilman Bhalla tonight to assure him that although we disagree on many issues, we can stand united against this kind of racism infecting our city. I’ve also submitted a copy of this flier to the Hoboken Police Department and will be sending it to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.”
It’s against state election law to send out a campaign flyer without putting one’s name on it, and certainly to falsely implicate another campaign.
“Midnight flyers” typically appear in Hoboken just before an election in order to scare residents about one of the candidates. In past years, the flyers often tried to scare low-income residents by saying they’ll lose their housing if they vote for a certain candidate (we’re still expecting that one, which usually comes under doors).
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker Tweeted a denouncement of the flyer on Saturday, along with a photo of it (so if you are interested in seeing it, you can click on Booker’s Twitter feed).
Racist/xenophobic flyers against Asians also appeared during a campaign in Edison, N.J. last week.
The Reporter has also received racist and homophobic comments on its website in recent weeks against Bhalla and DeFusco, which have been removed from the page.
Pictured are the various mailers that residents of Hoboken have received in the past few weeks in the heated race.
Another “midnight flyer” that appeared around town last week targeted DeFusco and linked him to various past Hoboken politicians or politically involved people, implying he was part of a crime “family.” The flyer showed their photos — but it only included photos of people of color and people who are Italian.
Watch for articles about the election in your print edition of the Hoboken Reporter this Sunday, or read the stories here at hudsonreporter.com. The Reporter can be reached at editorial@Hudsonreporter.com.

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