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New Jersey man's racist tirade against his neighbor prompts arrest, massive protest at his home

New Jersey
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 15:07:57-04

In the midst of a racist tirade against his neighbor on Friday, a New Jersey man told his neighbor to "come see me" and gave out his address. By Monday, hundreds of protesters had arrived at his home, and that man had been arrested on harassment charges.

According to a Facebook post from the Mount Laurel Police Department, Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, was arrested Monday on charges of harassment and biased intimidation.

His arrest came days after a video of his confrontation with his neighbor viewed thousands of times on social media, which prompted a massive protest of hundreds of people outside of his home on Monday.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the incident began Friday, when a bystander recorded Mathews, who is white, arguing with a neighbor of his, who is Black.

In that clip, Mathews taunts his neighbor, uses racial slurs and refers to his neighbor as a "monkey."

"Learn your law. It's not Africa," Mathews said in the video, explaining his right to stand outside of his neighbor's home.

"I was born in America, sir," the neighbor replied.

"Come see me," Mathews said to a bystander filming the video, sharing his address. "Bring whoever."

Click here to see the video. Warning, it contains racist and explicit language.

Eventually, the video shows police arrived on the scene. That evening, police charged Mathews with "biased intimidation and harassment." CBS Philadelphia reports that Mathews was allowed to return home after being charged.

Neighbors told the Inquirer that Friday's incident wasn't the first time Mathews had run into issues with his neighbors. Ashleigh Gibbons, 35, told the newspaper that Mathews had been "harassing" neighbors for two years, allegations Mathews denied.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Mathews said his tirade involved a "long-running housing dispute" and that he was drunk at the time.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting an encounter like that and certainly wasn’t expecting to disrespect anybody,” Mathews told the Inquirer. “Let me be clear: That is no excuse for what I said, but I lost my temper.”

He also claimed he wasn't a racist and that he uses similar language around other white people.

“Anybody that knows me know that I just talk like this,” he told the Inquirer.

As the video of the racist rant continued to circulate online throughout the weekend, anger grew in the community. By Monday morning, many in the community decided to take up Mathews on his offer to "come see me."

On Monday morning, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside of Mathews' home. Carrying signs and Black Lives Matter flags, they chanted and asked him to come outside.

The Inquirer reports that at one point, Mathews attempted to apologize, but protesters grew irate.

Eventually, police arrived at Mathews' home and removed him in handcuffs. Video from the scene showed protesters throwing objects at him as he was escorted away.

Warning: The video below contains explicit language.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said Mathews would remain jailed pending a detention hearing, which will likely take place on July 9.

"It is difficult to overstate how vile and despicable the conduct by this defendant towards his neighbors was on Friday night," Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement. "No one should ever have to deal with such hatred thrown in their face anywhere, but especially on their own doorstep."

However, Coffina also said that his office might file charges against protesters who showed up at Mathews' home.

"That said, it was unfortunate that some participants in yesterday's protest resorted to violence and the destruction of property, including that of the defendant's neighbors, as officers tried to escort the defendant from his home to the waiting patrol car," he wrote. "We will be reviewing evidence from the scene and will hold accountable anyone who committed criminal acts yesterday."