The New Jersey man arrested on Monday following a viral video of his racist rant against a Black neighbor has a history of slashing the tires of his Black neighbors as a part of a bid to get Black home owners association members removed from the board and get himself elected, some of his neighbors are coming forward to say.
Patricia Lanier told The Daily Mail this week that Edward Cagney Mathews, whom she’d never spoken to, hammered nails into two of her tires.
“Everybody knew who did it, but the police said unless we saw him they could do nothing about it,” she said.
Mathews, a 45-year-old man from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was arrested on assault and bias intimidation charges after he was filmed confronting and using racial slurs against his neighbors. He moved to the development in 2017.
Neighbor Barbara Guillory said it was known that Mathews was dealing with some issues. “We all know the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor with him. That’s just Cagney,” she said.
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 told Mathews to leave, but he responded by saying he was on “common ground.”
The two continued to argue as Mathews used racial slurs and made racist remarks multiple times, until a Mount Laurel police officer arrived and he appeared to walk away at the end of the video. 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.
According to Mathews’ neighbors, he’s been carrying out a campaign to get himself elected to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association by harassing Black members.
“He has been trying to drive people out of the neighborhood for years. It’s not just me, he has done the same to others. There’s been a rash of nails in tires around here,” Lanier said.
Neighbors also said Mathews wrote a racial slur on the fence of a board member of the HOA. Another neighbor told CBS Philly that Mathews “used a BB gun to shoot their windows out, he smeared dog feces all over their car.”
Police Chief Steve Riedner said authorities have received complaints about Mathews in the past.
“He had been brought to court before, but those charges were either dismissed or no probable cause was ever found,” he told ABC6. “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.”
TMZ reported that Mathews is being investigated by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with past complaints. A Black neighbor, Jazmyn Jene, told TMZ that when she spoke to Mathews several years go after he threatened and harassed her he suggested he’s so close to the police force that they’d never take action against him. Jene said she recently shared footage of an encounter with Mathews with police and that authorities apologized to her for not acting sooner after she previously reported the incident.
After Mathews revealed his address in the filmed confrontation with his neighbors, more than 150 people showed up to protest outside his home on Monday. According to Lanier’s husband, Mathews knew what was coming before the crowd gathered. “I was talking to him as recently as 11 p.m. on Sunday night, and he knew what was going to happen because word was already getting out,” he told Daily Mail.
When officers escorted Mathews out of his home in handcuffs on Monday, the crowd cheered. Protesters threw bottles in Mathews’ direction as he was led out of his home and caused damage to adjoining townhouses.
Mathews was set to appear in court on Friday.
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