The white New Jersey man captured on video pushing and making racist remarks toward a Black neighbor was taken into custody on Monday by Mt. Laurel police.
According to police Chief Steve Riedner, arresting 45-year-old Edward Cagney Mathews was difficult because a number of protesters and community members had gathered outside of the man’s home after he yelled his address in the viral video that captured his July 2 encounter with a Black neighbor.
“It was a difficult situation to extract him,” said Riedner. “Unfortunately some in the crowd made it more dangerous for everybody.”
Mathews will remain behind bars on assault and bias intimidation charges until he is arraigned sometime in the next few days. He was scheduled to have a first appearance on Tuesday in Superior Court, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said, and his detention hearing is scheduled for July 9.
Footage of the Friday encounter shows Mathews shouting epithets as he’s standing within a couple of feet of young Black man standing on a porch in front of a home.
“F-cking n—er!” he said.
The Black man repeatedly tells Mathews to leave, and Mathews responds by saying he is on “common ground.”
“Walk away,” the Black man said.
“It’s not Africa….or wherever you were,” Mathews said.
“I was born in America,” the man said.
Mathews then said, “This monkey over here and this monkey over here both have videotape of you putting your hands on me twice,” gesturing to several people recording the incident. Mathews then said he was going to press charges.
Mathews continued to rant and at one point said, “Get these f-cking monkey n—ers out of here.” Then Mathews revealed his address in front of the camera, saying “come f-cking see me.”
When an officer arrived, Mathews first told him he had no jurisdiction, then said, “Go talk to these f-cking n—-ers.”
The officer maintained a calm tone, saying he would come talk to him later and that he was going to go and do his job.
A woman off-camera who was standing in front of the house said she didn’t know Mathews and wanted him to leave her alone.
Mathews interjected to say he wasn’t going to leave until the woman’s husband stopped threatening him as the officer asked him to “cut it out.” The video ended as Mathews appeared to walk away.
ABC6 reported that Ring camera footage captured how the encounter began. Mathews approached the home of an interracial senior citizen couple, and demanded the husband come out to speak with him.
The young man seen arguing with Mathews is another man who interceded on behalf of the couple. The conflict reportedly stemmed from months of problems with the neighborhood’s HOA board.
Protesters gathered outside of Mathews’ home on Monday as police stood guard. He tried to come outside to address the crowd at one point but was ushered back inside.
“People are out here because they’re angry,” Marcus Sibley of the Southern Burlington County NAACP said. “They felt they could say the most horrible thing you could say to a Black person and there would be no repercussions.”
Footage shows police escort Mathews from his home on Monday as dozens of protesters, who had formed a large crowd in the area, cheered. Mathews was issued a summons for harassment and bias intimidation on Friday but not arrested.
Riedner said about 10 to 15 officers were sprayed with pepper spray and hit by bottles thrown at Mathews by members of the crowd and that damage was done to adjoining townhouses next to Mathews’ home. Authorities say they are viewing footage of the crowd to identify anyone who caused property damage or attacked officers.
Before being taken into custody, Mathews spoke to ABC6 and said his actions can’t be justified.
“There is nothing I’m going to be able to say that’s going to justify me using the words that I used,” he said. “Whatever I have to do to make it up to the community — and the world at this point, seeing how big it is — understand that I made a mistake, allow me the ability to move forward, just like we all deserve.”
Several other neighbors came forward and said they’ve been victimized by Mathews in the past, including one woman who said he vandalized her home, and another who said he harassed her.
Riedner confirmed police have received complaints about Matthews in the past.
“He had been brought to court before but those charges were either dismissed or no probable cause was ever found,” he said. “We had investigated him several times. But until this particular incident where the neighbors had video available from the ring cameras and things of that nature, we were finally able to get the evidence that we needed to actually charge him with the crimes he was committing.”
Mathews told NBC10 he’s not a racist and is remorseful about what happened.
“I’ve never been a racist,” Mathews said. “I’ve made mistakes. Said racial slurs out of anger or being drunk. I may not be able to relate to communities of color but I am not a racist and I have the upmost respect for us as a community.”