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N.J. man arrested after racist swear video went viral, protests outside his home

A white man who was captured in a viral video harassing a Black neighbor and shouting racial slurs was arrested Monday, authorities said.

Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was charged with harassment and bias intimidation after a woman accused him of “continually harassing” her, the police department said in a statement Monday morning. He was taken into custody Monday evening after a large crowd of protesters gathered outside his home.

Footage showed Mathews repeatedly calling his neighbor the N-word and a “monkey” outside a home in Mount Laurel, about 20 miles east of Philadelphia. Mathews can be heard stating his address several times before walking away after a police officer responded to the scene.

Mathews’ challenge prompted dozens of protesters to gather outside his townhouse Monday afternoon as police officers guarded his door, NBC Philadelphia reported.

The large crowd included some who reported Mathews to authorities in the past — which Mount Laurel Police Chief Stephen Riedener confirmed but said those charges were “either dismissed or no probable cause was ever found,” according to the news station.

Mathews told NBC Philadelphia that he admitted using racial slurs but denied being a racist.

“I’ve never been a racist,” he 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.”

“People are out here because they’re angry,” Southern Burlington County NAACP spokesperson Marcus Sibley said in an interview with the news station. “They felt they could say the most horrible thing you could say to a Black person and there would be no repercussions.”

Protesters could be seen cheering and throwing objects at officers and Mathews as he was escorted out of his home and into a police car about 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said during a news conference Monday evening that his office was also charging Mathews with assault after reviewing video of the incident.

“I want to especially commend the victim, who showed incredible restraint with somebody spewing awful, vile things,” Coffina said. “The protesters had every right to be upset about that because this is despicable conduct.”

In a statement to NBC News on Tuesday, Coffina said protesters had damaged the property of Mathews’ neighbors, adding “it was unfortunate that some participants in yesterday’s protest resorted to violence and the destruction” and saying officials would review evidence from the scene.

Ashley Gibbons, a neighbor who said she and her mother were subjected to harassment, didn’t believe Mathews was remorseful, NBC Philadelphia reported.

“It was coming to him,” Gibbons said. “And I have no regrets of what happened today. None.”

“I did not mean this,” Mathews told NBC Philadelphia. “It was a lapse of judgment at a moment at my weakest point and my anger got the best of me.”

However, the police department said it “does not tolerate hate or bias intimidation in any form.”

“This type of behavior is totally unacceptable,” Mount Laurel police wrote in a Facebook post. “We can assure our residents that incidents like this are thoroughly investigated and that those who commit such offenses will be held accountable for their actions.”

It was unclear if Mathews had an attorney. Efforts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Mathews is being held at the Burlington County Jail, according to court records. He is expected to appear in court later this week.

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