“I might have tacos when I go home,” is how the Mayor Joe Maturo responded to WPIX reporter Mario Diaz’s question of, “What are you doing for the Latino community today?” While that response might sound dismissive–it is– and ignorant– it is– what you’re not understanding is that this is just another day in the life in East Haven, Connecticut. But before we jump to any conclusions, let’s do a little background on what led to that exchange – you know, for the sake of context?
Normally, a “haven” is a place of shelter or safety. However, for Latinos, which make up roughly 10% of the total population of East Haven, the town has been anything but that for the past several years. The growing racial tension in the town is the result of the conflict between the Latino community and those who are supposed to protect and serve said community: police officers.
On Tuesday, however, four officers – known as the Miller Boys – were arrested by the F.B.I. on the grounds they had systematically targeted East Haven Latinos and subjected them to various forms of intimidation and physical abuse. It’s wonderful to know that these Latinos’ tax dollars were helping to subsidize the officers’ paychecks. If part of my paycheck were being sent to people who were being paid to assault me psychologically and physically, I’d at least want there to be ball gags and whips involved. If I were being unjustly and painfully bent over the hood of an automobile, I’d feel better if there was a safe word.
But let’s get back to the main issue here: What are you doing for the Latino community today?
While the arrest of these officers (with the potential for more arrests) sounds like a step in the right direction, we can’t ignore how Mayor Joe Maturo fielded Mario Diaz’s question with less grace than Bill Buckner on two bad ankles. Anyone with half a marble in their dome knows that when reports of racial profiling are in the air, it’s probably best to try and demonstrate some level of sensitivity (EVEN IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT).Shortly after the clip of that exchange aired, reporter Diaz tells the viewers how the mayor apologized (off camera) for his taco remark, saying his comments were “out of context.” Congrats to mayor Joe Maturo for being the first person to use the phrase “out of context” out of context – as reporter Diaz was so quick to point out.
Joe Maturo’s “apology” reveals that he knew better than to say what he said, but his incredulity lead him answer with arrogance and superiority towards the Latino reporter – which most likely reveals how he feels about Latinos in general. It’s not that he’s racist, but he clearly feels the Latino community isn’t even worth his time. Sadly, if Joe Maturo had justified the abuses by saying, “Well, considering that a large portion of the Latino population is Ecuadorian, we felt that subjecting them to random authoritarian abuses might make them feel more at home!”, that would have been less intolerant because at least it would have fallen into the realm of cultural understanding beyond “eating tacos makes brown people feel better.”
Not only did Joe Maturo apologize for his comments, most likely at the behest of one of his advisers, but according to the story he followed up with a statement, saying: “he’s visited Puerto Rico, and since he’s Italian he may have spaghetti.” Good for him. Let’s hope the next time he acts irrationally, he blames it on being hormonal because of his period. And if he gets really drunk at the office, maybe he can blame that on some ancient Irish ancestry. And if he gets fired, he can blame that on his douche background. I know I will.