Conn. Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. in trouble for ‘taco’ remark

The mayor of East Haven, Conn., Joseph Maturo Jr., has apologized for his flippant response to a reporter’s question about what he was doing for the Latino community in his city.

On Tuesday, four East Haven police officers were arrested by FBI agents for discriminatory policing against Latinos, CNN reported.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

They face up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for charges including conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the violation of the rights of Latinos. Prosecutors allege more than 30 violations, including falsifying reports, improperly detaining Latino suspects and harassing and intimidating members of the Latino community.

In an interview about the scandal with WPIX-TV on Tuesday, the LA Times reported, journalist Mario Diaz asked Maturo, “What are you doing for the Latino community today?”

“I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet,” the mayor answered.

Maturo issued a full apology today, the Hartford Courant reported. "My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community and, in particular, the Latino community for the insensitive and off-collar comment that I made to WPIX reporter Mario Diaz yesterday regarding the recent events affecting our community and our police department," Maturo said. "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."

Earlier, the mayor had blamed his response on the fact that his conversation with Diaz was his 12th or 13th interview of the day, the Hartford Courant reported. "If it harmed anybody or hurt anybody, I apologize," Maturo said. "Yeah, it's probably a little insensitive, but it was late in the day."

Connecticut politicians and community leaders have roundly criticized Maturo for his comments. Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy told CNN that Maturo’s remarks "represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable."

"The comment not only lacks professionalism, it is also a slap in the face to the Latino community," Isaias T. Diaz, chairperson of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, told the Hartford Courant. "I believe in vision, vision is often cast by leadership. We have a serious issue when the leader of a city makes a remark like that in the face of such a serious investigation."

More from GlobalPost: Latinos now outnumber African Americans at college

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.