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East Haven Mayor Thinks Eating Tacos Equals Reaching Out to Latinos; RI4A Delivers 500 of Them

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taco bellThey’re calling it Taco-Gate.

Here’s the story: on Tuesday, the FBI arrested four East Haven Police Department officers and charged them with conspiracy, false arrest, excessive force, and obstruction of justice.  Over many years, it seems, these officers have been abusing minorities, especially Hispanics, and then trying to cover it up.  According to a New York Times article:

They stopped and detained people, particularly immigrants, without reason, federal prosecutors said, sometimes slapping, hitting or kicking them when they were handcuffed, and once smashing a man’s head into a wall. They followed and arrested residents, including a local priest, who tried to document their behavior. 

It’s disgusting stuff.  But apparently, anti-immigrant tendencies in the East Haven, Connecticut community doesn’t end there.  That very night, a reporter asked East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo what he’d  do to reach out to the embattled local Latino community.  His now infamous answer:

“I might have tacos when I go home,” Maturo said.  “I’m not quite sure yet.”

We are overwhelmed by Maturo’s compassion.

As Digby at the blog Hullaballoo put it:

We often say in these parts that conservatives don’t have a sense of humor. But that’s wrong. It’s just that it’s the kind of cruel stupid humor most of us get past before we’re out of high school.

On Thursday, our friends at Reform Immigration for America fought humor with humor by asking their supporters to text a number to have a taco sent to the mayor on their behalf.  Last week, 500 tacos ended up making it to the East Haven office.  The mayor eventually put out this statement:

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.

Which wasn’t enough of a response, it seems, for the Atlantic:

We have to say, this is a funny prank but kind of a weak protest. Did the French send Marie Antoinette 500 cakes? Okay, so they didn’t have 500 cakes, and that was kind of the point. But still, no! They chopped off her head!  (We’re not endorsing that method.)