Sikh American Ravinder Bhalla, who became the first Sikh mayor of New Jersey’s Hoboken city, has publicly acknowledged that death threats were made against him and his family recently.
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon following a security breach at City Hall, Bhalla said the city is working with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to improve security at City Hall.
“This incident, along with death threats to me and my family, is an unfortunate reminder that we need to take security seriously,” Bhalla said, without elaborating on the threats.
“The Joint Terrorism Task Force has evaluated City Hall, and we have been working to implement their recommendations for physical and procedural changes to improve security for all employees in the building,” he said.
According to city spokesman Juan Melli, a man entered City Hall and told security he needed to use the restroom after going through the metal detectors.
While Bhalla was not in his office at the time, his deputy chief of staff, Jason Freeman, observed the man throw a bag with an object in it towards the administrative assistant’s desk before running out of the office, Melli said in a statement.
Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante added that the department takes these matters very seriously.
“We take incidents like these incredibly seriously and will continue working to ensure the security of the mayor and everyone who visits City Hall,” he said.
Bhalla became the first ever Sikh to hold office in New Jersey after a stiff competition that turned ugly when he was labelled a terrorist in slanderous flyers.