On January 24, 2012, The United States Department of Justice announced that a grand jury sitting in Bridgeport, Connecticut, had returned an indictment on four East Haven Police officers alleging more than 30 acts of conspiracy to violate and for violating the civil rights of Latino members of the community including unlawful arrests, intimidation, improper searches and seizures among other acts of abuse. The abuse and intimidation extended to New Haven Police Commissioners who were attempting to investigate the misconduct, themselves. The federal investigation involved conduct from 2007 through 2011.
East Haven’s Republican Mayor, Joseph Maturo, has been under fire for his re-appointing, after an administrative leave following the initial federal investigation in 2010, Police Chief Leonard Gallo who has been the subject of the current indictment and is, according to his attorney, likely “co-conspirator number 1” according to The New Haven Independent. Police Chief Gallo was initially a police officer of New Haven Police Department when he was sent to work at the animal shelter because he “couldn’t be trusted to work with humans.” Shortly thereafter, he became Chief of Police in the neighboring town of East Haven. Now he, along with several of his police officers are either currently under indictment or embroiled in the ongoing federal investigation that goes well beyond violations in the Latino community.
As the story unfolded, many stepped back from defending the police chief and the indicted officers and attempted to handle internal investigations. But not his stanch supporter, East Haven Mayor Maturo. Maturo has stood steadfast in his support of Chief Gallo, even as he engaged in an interview with a reporter, Mario Diaz, from New York’s WPIX-TV. Diaz asked the simple question (which some conservatives have referred to as ‘gotcha’ journalism): “What are you doing for the Latino community today?” This author sees nothing “gotcha” about that question but the answer is what took this news national.
The response by Mayor Maturo: “I might have tacos when I go home; I’m not quite sure yet.”
Mr. Diaz immediately confronted Mayor Maturo about the inappropriate response and this humorous back-tracking, foot-in-mouth, take back, say it again, add ‘spaghetti’ in an attempt to make it look bi-cultural, try again, do-over ensued:
Claiming he currently “regrets” his response does little or nothing to make him look less the fool or racist and does absolutely nothing to deflect the racial profiling and abuses that the community of East Haven has been enduring for years. This story is just the beginning.