A New Jersey man with a long criminal record has been arrested and charged with threats against pro-life Congressman Chris Smith.
The New Jersey Republican said he and his staff have been targets in recent years, linking the attacks to his pro-life stance, Life News reported.
Dereal Finklin, 43, an enrolled Democrat from East Orange, New Jersey, is being held in the Monmouth County Jail after allegedly threatening Smith’s life via social media, according to the Asbury Park Press.
He faces a court hearing Wednesday.
Finklin is charged with making terroristic threats and cyber-bullying, third and fourth-degree charges, The Trentonian reported.
Smith said the threat is part of a pattern.
“There is a lot of workplace harassment,” Smith said. “I know it’s worked on some (in Congress). … They just got tired of being threatened. Not me. I double down.”
However, he has paid a price. He said the tires on his personal car have been slashed seven times in as many months. Last year, he said, a man barged into his office and called his staff “fascists.”
Smith has also faced harassment at town hall events, such as one in 2017 with the local Alzheimer’s Association, during which activists took over the meeting.
“They said, ‘this is an ambush,’ and they walked in the door holding up their cell phones and getting far too close,” Smith said.
Smith said Finklin posted a picture of Smith on Facebook with the caption “dead man walking.”
Smith said he was alerted to the post by a retired police detective. The posts were brought to the attention of authorities.
A criminal complaint said that comments Finklin made on July 26 online were intended to cause the congressman to be “in imminent fear of death.”
The complaint said officials feared Finklin was capable of carrying out his alleged threats.
The documents did not provide details of why officials thought Finklin would act against Smith.
Finklin has prior felony convictions in New Jersey and out of state. Most of the charges against him, including those that landed him in jail or for which he was fined, were related to theft or credit card fraud.
Smith has been in Congress since 1981.
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