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Hundreds of tacos sent to Connecticut mayor

By Maria Santana, CNN
updated 4:35 PM EST, Thu January 26, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some 500 tacos were delivered to office of the East Haven mayor
  • It was part of a text-for-taco campaign in response to the mayor's comments Tuesday
  • Mayor had remarked he would support Latinos by eating tacos
  • Those tacos and more are expected to be given to local food-assistance outlets

East Haven, Connecticut (CNN) -- Two days after a Connecticut mayor delivered an errant comment about eating tacos to support East Haven Latinos, some of whom are the alleged victims of police mistreatment, Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. apparently got his wish.

Some 500 tacos were delivered to his office Thursday after a Latino activist group called Junta for Progressive Action launched a text-for-tacos campaign to draw attention to the comment, which Maturo later apologized for.

In the interview Tuesday, a local reporter pointed out that there were no Latino officers on East Haven's police force.

"And your point being?" Maturo responded.

Asked what he planned to do for the Latino community in light of the discrimination allegations, the mayor said, "I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet."

That set off the activist group, a local branch of the Reform Immigration for America organization, which said that anytime someone texts the word "taco" to 69866, it will deliver a taco to the mayor on their behalf.

They've received more than 2,600 texts, the group said in a statement Thursday.

"The mayor has shown a total lack of respect for the constituents he has been sworn to serve to the best of his ability," said Henry Fernandez, spokesman for the group.

Maturo twice apologized for the comments, saying his words were largely a product of stress.

Still, some 500 tacos were placed inside his office; the rest are already being rerouted to local food-assistance outlets.

"The town of East Haven has received an abundance of tacos as a result of the campaign initiated by the group 'Reform Immigration for America,'" said Maturo in a statement. "Recognizing that there are many in need in our state, we have arranged for all of the tacos to be donated to local soup kitchens and pantries, including the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven."

He added that "the events of the past few days have focused our town, and my administration, on the need to deal sensitively and compassionately with the challenges currently facing our town."

On Tuesday, FBI agents arrested four East Haven police officers accused of playing a role in abuse of Latino residents and business owners, performing illegal searches, making false arrests and harassing immigrant rights advocates.

The arrests are the first to stem from a federal investigation into racial profiling in the city and follow a scathing December report from the U.S. Justice Department that accused the town's police of engaging in "discriminatory policing against Latinos."

CNN's Sheila Steffen and Jason Carroll contributed to this report.

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