East Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - Despite an apology, state officials say they are "disgusted" by East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo's "taco" response to a question about the police profiling investigation and arrest of four officers.
The Republican mayor this morning called his comment "stupid."
""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 in a prepared statement. "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."
On Tuesday, Maturo pledged his support for the embattled police department. However, when asked by a reporter from WPIX-TV in New York what he is doing for the Latino community, Maturo said "I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet."
He went on to say that he might eat spaghetti and meatballs because he's of Italian descent.
"The comments by East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo are repugnant," said Gov. Dannel Malloy in a statement. "They represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable. Being tired is no excuse. He owes an apology to the community, and more importantly, he needs to show what he's going to do to repair the damage he's done. And he needs to do it today."
"As both a Latino and as Chief Elected Official of Connecticut's Capital City, I am disgusted by Mayor Maturo's comment," said Mayor Pedro Segarra. "As Mayor, I stand strongly behind the men and women who protect and serve our City and encourage our residents to work as partners toward the best interests of our communities. That cannot happen if accusations of discrimination are dismissed and disregarded. Many have worked diligently to correct the painful history of racism in this country, and Mayor Maturo's comments are a disappointing example of how far we still have to go to."
"Mayor Maturo's comments are completely abhorrent and have no place in our civil discourse," said House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan. "More than just apologizing, Mayor Maturo needs to start working to bring his town together to overcome this terrible incident."
Speaking on WPLR-FM Wednesday morning, Mayor Maturo said "It was stupid, it was insensitive and I gave my detractors... a reason to make matters worse with a 'gotcha' and an insensitive and stupid answer to something I should have never said."
Maturo said the radio interview would be the first and only interview he would give today. "I think I got myself in enough hot water yesterday," he said.
In a town still digesting the arrest of four police officers for allegedly profiling Latinos, the initial comment added insult to injury.
"I've lived in East Haven a long time and that remark was out of left field," said Joey Sawicki.
"Like he said, get asked a stupid question, give a stupid answer," said Art Decato. "I think the whole incident is embarrassing for the whole town."
Wednesday afternoon, the East Haven Democratic Town Committee Chairman demanded the resignation of Mayor Maturo. "Everyone knows the seriousness of this matter and for him, as the leader of our community, to say something so utterly insensitive is a complete disgrace. He should be ashamed of himself."
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