Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. has begun outreach efforts to the Latino community in the wake of the indictment and arrest of four police officers for allegedly mistreating Latinos, and Maturo's own "taco" comment in the wake of it.
According to New Haven, Conn., Deputy Director of Town Affairs Frank Gentilesco, Maturo so far has met with a contingent of Latino legislators and other elected officials and had preliminary discussions with other groups.
Members of the mayor's staff hand-delivered invitations to interim Police Chief Brent Larrabee's swearing-in reception to Latino-owned business along Main Street.
Since starting work on Tuesday, Larrabee has spoken to federal Department of Justice Civil Rights Division official Luis Saucedo and "has also reached out to Rev. (James) Manship," pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, although he has yet to make contact.
Finally, "the mayor has visited Latino businesses with Chief Larrabee, Deputy Chief (John) Mannion and myself on a couple of occasions," Gentilesco said.
Maturo did not advertise it, but according to a witness, those outreach efforts included a visit Thursday to the Ecuadorian-owned Guti'z Bakery for lunch -- accompanied by Larrabee and Deputy Chief John Mannion.
Woodbridge resident and New Haven attorney Elia Alexiades said he was meeting his girlfriend for lunch at Guti'z, and when they walked in, Maturo walked in behind them.
At first Maturo was alone at the counter, waiting for the two chiefs and talking to members of the Gutierrez family, which owns Guti'z. Soon afterward, Larrabee and Mannion arrived.
Alexiades captured the visit in an iPhone photo, which he agreed to let the Register publish.
"He was throwing a few Spanish words around," Alexiades said. "He had obviously talked to these folks before. He came in by himself and said he was waiting for the chief and the assistant chief."
"He said something about the pulled pork," called pernil in Ecuador, "and I said, 'Yeah!,' and so I got it, too."
Both the pernil and the chicken soup were "terrific," Alexiades said.
"It was totally low-key," he said of Maturo's visit to Guti'z.
The three men took a table against the back wall and had lunch, he said.
"No entourage, no media," Alexiades told his 701 Facebook friends when he posted the photo there. "Sometimes lunch is just lunch."
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