John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The East Haven mayor has apologized for seeming to suggest his city's racial ills could be cured with delicious Mexican food.
That was basically the response of East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. to the news that the FBI had arrested four of his police officers on suspicion of intimidating the city's Latino population. When asked by WPIX reporter Mario Diaz what he planned to do for worried Latinos after the arrests on Tuesday, the mayor reflected:
I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet.
Incredibly, the interview just gets more uncomfortable from there. (Full video below.) Maturo attempts to explain, backtrack – "I might have spaghetti tonight" – and finally disown the remark, calling what he is having for dinner "immaterial." By the time the camera fades to black, viewers are left with a comprehensive understanding of the mayor's favorite foods but little idea of how he plans to handle his allegedly racial-profiling cops.
Whether Matura did in fact enjoy some delicious tacos Tuesday night is unknown. But whatever he ate must've rankled throughout today. After Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy called the taco statement "repugnant" this morning (not a foodie!), Maturo issued an apology, saying that "I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation."
The FBI has indicted one East Haven sergeant and three officers on a bag of civil-rights charges, including beating a suspect who was handcuffed, falsely arresting another man, intimidating undocumented immigrants as well as fellow police officers and arresting a priest who pointed a video camera at them.
As the Connecticut Post noted, the Latino population in the Long Island Sound community has doubled in the past decade, "creating racial tensions, according to advocates of the Latino population."