What remains in question is the source of malicious fliers that were distributed on Friday, November 3, meant to incite some sort of xenophobic backlash against candidate Bhalla, using forged copies of campaign materials from candidate Michael DeFusco.
“On Friday at approximately 2040 hours, Hoboken Mayoral Candidate Michael DeFusco contacted police about an alarming incident. Members of his campaign observed an unknown individual disseminating altered DeFusco campaign literature. The campaign literature now had an added portion that read “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our Town” over a picture of Ravi Bhalla, another Hoboken Mayoral candidate.”
That was part of the official statement given by the Hoboken Police Department. HPD seems to agree that the fliers are in fact fraudulent, and did not come from the DeFusco campaign.
“The Hoboken Police Department is investigating this act as a Bias Incident. Notifications were made to the county and state. At this time, Hoboken Police Detectives are looking for two persons of interest.”
HPD released images and video of two individuals who were allegedly passing out the fliers on Friday night.
The story made local, national and even international headlines. When Bhalla won the election on Tuesday, the focus was on the fliers—despite even Bhalla’s insistence on redirecting the conversation to local issues that had dominated the campaign.
But questions about the origin of the fliers continue to reverberate around Hoboken.
“We are continuing our investigation, still taking any and all leads, and continuing to gather evidence,” Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante told hMAG. “Our main goal is to identify the individuals in the video/pics that we released on Friday, and any other individuals who may have been disseminating the flier.”
Meanwhile, Nicole DeFusco—Michael DeFusco’s sister—has started a fundraising campaign called “Justice for Election Tampering,” which seeks to offer a reward for any information that “leading to the conviction of the person or persons behind this attack on both Michael and Ravi’s good names. We all deserve to know the truth about who was behind the fliers—our democracy depends on it.”
Hoboken itself was dragged through the mud last week, and it has a lot of Mile Square residents riled up—no matter where their political alliances may lie.
“There is a lot of speculation and rumor surrounding this event, however, our detectives need to sort that out and focus on hard evidence and eyewitness statements,” said Ferrante, adding, “I am determined to identify these individuals involved as we have multiple victims to this, including the community of Hoboken as a whole.”