After initially brushing off serious threats to the Latino community of East Haven by saying that he would eat "tacos for dinner," today Mayor Maturo held a press conference to properly address the FBI investigation into racial intolerance in East Haven and announce Police Chief Gallo's departure. On the heels of this news, Reform Immigration For America released the following statement:
"We welcome this positive step in response to the growing demands of our community reflected in the 8,000 “taco” texts we have received, the 15,000 signatures on our petition and the escalating attention to problems in East Haven through national media. We are committed to holding the leadership of East Haven accountable to the needs, desires, and hopes our community. "
Reform Immigration for America, which consists of more than 800,000 immigration leaders and grassroots activists committed to achieving humane comprehensive immigration reform, acted quickly to mobilize around a deeply troubling issue that became known on Twitter as "#tacogate."
In addition to their Change.org petition, which sent a message to East Haven officials that racial profiling will not be tolerated, the group was able to generate a torrent of media attention by sending 500 tacos to Mayor Maturo’s office, one for each person who texted in their complaints. One taco was hand-delivered directly to the mayor along with an invitation to attend a community dinner to open up a dialogue with the Latino community to improve relations. The remaining tacos were sent to a local community kitchen.
While playful in tone, these actions called attention to East Haven’s ongoing treatment of the Latino community and supported the federal probe of the East Haven police department. Today, with the East Haven Chief of Police stepping down, thousands of people across the country can declare meaningful victory.
The FBI just arrested four East Haven, CT police officers for assaulting undocumented immigrants and making up false reports against Hispanics.
The East Haven officers assaulted individuals while they were handcuffed, unlawfully searched Latino businesses, and harassed and intimidated individuals, including advocates, witnesses, and other officers who tried to investigate or report misconduct or abuse the officers committed.
These continual and deliberate patterns of racial profiling did not go unnoticed by the FBI. The federal investigation found “life was made miserable for Hispanics” by these officers in East Haven.
But instead of standing up for the Latino community in his city, East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo immediately came out in support of the police department. Then on a radio show, the Mayor was asked what he is going to do to help the Latino community in wake of this disgusting racial profiling tragedy.
“I might have tacos when I go home, I’m not quite sure yet.”
Even though he later said sorry, a politician's apology clearly isn't enough to make up for allowing institutionalized racism in a police force and city government.
Tell Mayor Matruo: he needs to replace the East Haven Chief of Police and send a clear message that racial profiling won't be tolerated.