Close to 350 community activists, immigrants, local leaders and residents marched down Main Street in East Haven Saturday, hoping to draw attention to issues of alleged racial profiling in East Haven’s police department.
Flanked by a heavy police presence, the group carried signs and shouted slogans in English and Spanish calling for equal treatment, justice and reconciliation.
At the town green, the marchers came face to face with a group of about 40 counter-protestors, some of whom yelled for them to “go back to their countries” and “pay taxes!” A few used racial slurs to address the crowd.
Protest organizers made a concerted effort to keep their marchers from interacting with those on the sidelines, hoping to avoid escalation. It worked.
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo did not join the march, but released a statement in response.
“The March for Unity in East Haven today highlighted our commitment to continue the open dialogue we have initiated amongst all segments of our Town,” he said. “We must all be willing to hold out our hands in cooperation so that we may move forward as one, unified community.”
Maturo has faced down calls for his own resignation for his handling of a Department of Justice investigation into allegations of profiling, which resulted in the arrest of four East Haven police officers. Maturo’s embattled police chief retired in January under similar pressure.