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Taco Demonstration Targets East Haven Mayor

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Demonstrators delivered hundreds of tacos to East Haven Town Hall.  Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. said he might have tacos, when he was asked what he would do for the Latino community after four police officers were arrested on federal discrimination charges. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

Demonstrators delivered hundreds of tacos to East Haven Town Hall. Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. said he might have tacos, when he was asked what he would do for the Latino community after four police officers were arrested on federal discrimination charges. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

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EAST HAVEN, Conn. (AP and WTIC-AM) _ The office of a Connecticut mayor who made a poorly received quip about his city’s Latino community has been blasted with prank phone calls and a delivery of hundreds of tacos.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. has apologized several times but resisted calls for his resignation over a comment that he “might have tacos” as a way to reach out to Latinos. The comment came after the FBI arrested four East Haven police officers described as “bullies with badges” who harassed the town’s Hispanics.

“We’ve got beans, rice, and guacamole,” said Junta For Progressive Action Interim Director Latrina Kelly, standing in the waiting room of the mayor’s office, holding a foil tray of tacos.

Kelly said the mayor’s comment shows how discrimination was allowed to take hold in the East Haven Police Department.

City officials said the tacos would be donated to a soup kitchen in New Haven.

Maturo was not at town hall when the protest food was delivered, but his staff distributed a written statement which read, in part, “The abundance of tacos we received today underscores the importance of the issues currently facing the town of East Haven.”

The mayor wrote that he has focused “on the need to deal sensitively and compassionately with the challenges currently facing out town.”

Maturo held regular meetings Thursday as Connecticut’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission called on him to resign.

About an hour after the taco protest at town hall, one of the four police officers arrested earlier this week appeared in Bridgeport Federal Court.

Jason Zullo had been in custody since his arrest.  He was released on $250,000 bond.

The officers were accused of harassing Latinos, in one case kicking a handcuffed person in the back, while the person was on the ground in a Latino restaurant’s parking lot.

Another officer was accused of shoving two people’s heads against walls at the East Haven Police Department.

Officers also were accused of harassing people outside Latino businesses, then illegally searching the businesses for video equipment because the traffic stops had been recorded.

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