A New Jersey man who was caught on video shouting racist insults and harassing his neighbors was arrested twice and charged with several hate crimes, with his second arrest coming as people staged an hourslong protest outside his home.
The man, Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, has been the subject of numerous complaints from his neighbors in his Mount Laurel, N.J., condominium complex, who have accused him of racist harassment, a police spokesman said.
But tension in the community reached a breaking point over the weekend when a video of Mr. Mathews, who is white, taunting and shouting racist slurs at Black neighbors went viral on Facebook.
According to a complaint from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the dispute began Friday evening when Mr. Mathews tried to confront one neighbor, Leron Brown, who is Black and the board president of the condominium’s homeowner’s association.
The video, which was posted on Sunday, begins with another neighbor, Etchu Tambe, who is also Black, blocking Mr. Mathews from entering Mr. Brown’s residence and telling him to leave.
Mr. Mathews repeatedly closes the distance, going chest-to-chest with Mr. Tambe while attempting to goad him with racist slurs.
“I have every right to be here,” Mr. Mathews says as Mr. Tambe tells him to leave Mr. Brown’s yard. “Learn your law. This is not Africa.”
Mr. Brown’s wife, Denise Brown, called the police, the complaint said. An officer is seen arriving at the home shortly thereafter. As he approaches the house, Mr. Mathews can be heard continuing to shout. He and the officer appear to recognize one another.
“Cagney, cut it out, man, let me talk to them,” the officer says. “Go home.”
Mr. Mathews was arrested and charged with bias intimidation and harassment, and released hours later with a summons for a future court date. But community members, furious he was allowed to return home, took matters into their own hands.
In the video of the incident, Mr. Mathews turns directly to the camera and gives his exact address, challenging viewers to “come see me” and to “bring whoever.” So on Monday, more than 100 protesters showed up outside his door, videos posted on social media show, and called for him to come out.
Hours later, Mr. Mathews was arrested on additional charges of bias intimidation and assault.
“The video wasn’t available to us when we first dealt with him,” said Officer Kyle Gardner, a spokesman for the Mount Laurel Police Department, explaining the second arrest. “I believe the charges stem from that.”
Members of the crowd cheered as officers escorted Mr. Mathews out, with some protesters throwing objects at police vehicles as they drove away. According to NJ.com, some protesters smashed the windows of Mr. Mathews’s condo before being pushed away by police.
In a statement, Scott A. Coffina, the Burlington County prosecutor, commended the protesters for “showing incredible restraint.” He went on to condemn those who threw objects as officers left the scene and damaged Mr. Mathews’s home.
“It is difficult to overstate how vile and despicable the conduct by this defendant toward his neighbors was on Friday night,” Mr. Coffina said. “No one should ever have to deal with such hatred thrown in their face anywhere, but especially on their own doorstep.”
“We recognize the justifiable outrage of the community,” Mr. Coffina added, saying that his office would “see this prosecution through so that justice is done.”
Mr. Mathews remains in custody and is awaiting a court appearance, set for later this week. Information about a lawyer for Mr. Mathews was not immediately available.
Several neighbors in Mount Laurel, a western New Jersey community near Philadelphia, expressed frustration to news outlets over what they said had been a lackluster response by the Police Department after multiple reports about Mr. Mathews.
“We’re not going to tolerate this anymore,” Aliya Robinson, a neighbor of Mr. Mathews, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Mr. Gardner confirmed that several complaints had been made about Mr. Mathews in the past. He also said the judge originally assigned to Mr. Mathews’s case on Friday evening had recused himself, though he said he did not know why.
Another video was posted Monday morning by a woman who said she used to live in the condo above Mr. Mathews. She wrote that Mr. Mathews had relentlessly harassed her, annoyed by the noise her young son made, and she accused him of spray painting her car with racist slurs and kicking down her door. Though she tried to press charges, her case was eventually dropped, she said.
In the video, a man she identified as Mr. Mathews can be heard saying that he was “friends with all the cops.” He tells her that she would not be able to get any help from the police if she complained against him, “because they’re my people.”
She wrote that it was “a painful experience especially being he got away with everything.”
“No one did anything at all,” she added. “It was the worst experience of my life. I thought moving to Mount Laurel would have been a great thing but was really wrong.”
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