Jessica Hill / AP
Dixon Jimenez, right, delivers tacos to East Haven, Conn. Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., Jan. 26. Maturo has expressed remorse for saying he "might have tacos" to do something for his town's besieged Latino community - but he has no plans to step down.
A Connecticut mayor who sparked a firestorm of criticism for quipping “I might have tacos” when interviewed by a TV reporter about the arrest of four town police officers accused of racially profiling and bullying Latino residents got more than he bargained for.
More than 2,000 tacos were delivered to the office of East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo on Thursday, ordered by people who found his comments insensitive racially offensive. The send-the-mayor-a-taco campaign, which took off via tweets, cellphone texts and social-media shares, was organized by Reform Immigration for America, a group that advocates comprehensive immigration reform.
A bulk order of 500 tacos was hand-delivered to the mayor’s office by members of Junta for Progressive Action, a Latino nonprofit in New Haven, Conn. Others texted in individual orders.
In a letter accompanying the bulk delivery, Junta for Progressive Action said:
“These are serious allegations against the state of civic affairs in your community – yet when asked what you personally would be doing to address racial discrimination in East Haven, you made a mockery of the crisis by suggesting that eating tacos is enough to help the Latino community in the wake of this tragedy.
Your subsequent apology isn’t enough to make up for allowing institutionalized racism in a police force and city government.”
Maturo wasn’t in the office when the delivery was made, the group said.
East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo
Maturo issued a statement later Thursday saying the taco bonanza will be donated to local soup kitchens.
“The abundance of tacos that we received today underscores the importance of the issues currently facing the town of East Haven and highlights the need for the town to continue the process of healing and reform…” he said.
The events of the past few days have focused our town, and my administration, on the need to deal sensitively and compassionately with the challenges currently facing our town. We will continue to address those challenges while also striving to provide the services our residents have come to expect.”
Reform Immigration for America said it had already planned to donate the tacos to local soup kitchens and claimed the mayor falsely took credit for the idea.
The mayor's woes began Tuesday with the announcement that the FBI had arrested four East Haven police officers on charges that they conspired to deprive Latinos and other residents of their constitutional rights. The charges include multiple counts of excessive force, false arrest, obstruction and conspiracy.
WPIX reporter Mario Diaz interviewed the mayor later Tuesday about the arrests and how he would respond to the fallout.
At one point in the exchange, Diaz asked Maturo: “What are you doing for the Latino community today?”
The mayor replied on camera: “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet.”
Maturo backtracked on Wednesday, issuing a public statement apologizing to the town of East Haven and to the Latino community for what he called an “insensitive and off-color comment.”
“Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example. “