“Nobody gives a damn about this racist getting more charges, that’s not the problem here, that’s a symptom. The illness is rotten police work in our police department” said Marcus Sibley, President of the NAACP Southern Burlington County, New Jersey, chapter.
Sibley is upset with Burlington County New Jersey prosecutor Scott Coffina’s finding the Mount Laurel Police Department did nothing wrong in its investigation of 43 complaints of racist harassment spanning five years lodged against Edward Mathews, 45, who was arrested in July after protests and viral video shed light on the matter.
On Oct. 5, Coffina’s report addressed key concerns regarding Mount Laurel Police Department’s handling of the case.
He determined, “there’s no indication that Mount Laurel police were dismissive of the complaints,” there was “no evidence Mathews was afforded special treatment,” and Coffina found it “difficult to find fault with Mount Laurel police on an incident-by-incident basis.”
The Mount Laurel Police Department also released a statement following the county prosecutor’s report reiterating, “MLPD did not fail to investigate the incidents that were reported to them, and they did not give Matthews special treatment.” They determined that the MLPD was not dismissive of complaints about Matthews and dealt with each complaint very seriously.”
Sibley questions, if Mount Laurel police were thorough in their investigation, then why has he received additional charges since his arrest over the summer.
Mathews was the subject of a viral video where he is seen repeatedly yelling racial slurs towards his Black neighbors including calling them “monkeys” and the N-word in their Mount Laurel, New Yersey, community. In the video, Mathews confronts a Black resident at his front door until a Mount Laurel police officer arrives and tells Mathews to leave.
Sibley says the incident caught on video is just one of many racially charged interactions between Mathews and his Black neighbors.
He says Mathews harassed a young Black woman by smashing her car window with a slingshot and smearing the N-word on her car in feces. “She had been coming to the police for three years” with little done by law enforcement, Sibley said.
Sibley says there is a larger, more systemic problem with policing in Burlington County, New Jersey, and it has to do with little to no accountability.
The Southern Burlington County NAACP chapter and other nearby chapters launched a survey to gauge the community’s experiences with police in the region. Sibley says respondents say “they’ve had terrible experiences.”
Sibley plans to bring the survey results to local officials to persuade them more accountability and substantive policy change is needed for area police departments. He knows protesting in the streets is not enough to fix the way police do their jobs.
“Going in the streets screaming in a pandemic still hasn’t changed anything. We still don’t have anything different on a significant level than we had pre-George Floyd,” said Sibley.