PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been one week since a Mount Laurel man was arrested after a video went viral of him yelling racial slurs at neighbors. CBS3’s Alexandria Hoff sat down with Mount Laurel’s police chief who addressed questions about the department’s conduct with the suspect.
It’s become known as the walk of shame, when Edward Cagney Mathews was walked into police custody from his Mount Laurel home on July 5. Viral videos of Mathews spewing racist rants at neighbors drew protestors to his home last week.READ MORE: New Jersey Native Carli Lloyd Makes USWNT Olympic History, Wins Bronze Medal At 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Victims told Eyewitness News that the harassment had been going on for years.
Frustration and moments of violence were also directed at members of the Mount Laurel Police Department for not taking action against Mathews sooner.
“That’s a huge misunderstanding about the police powers and our influence whether someone goes to jail or is released from jail, police don’t have a say in that matter,” Chief Stephen Riedener said.
According to Riedener, his department has long been trying to combat Mathews’ actions through visits and surveillance but were held back by the limits of the law.
“As disgusting and reprehensible as his language was that necessarily didn’t raise to the level of an arrest in New Jersey under biased intimidation,” he said.READ MORE: 4 People Shot In Drive-By Shooting During Sidewalk Sale In Franklinville, Philadelphia Police Say
According to a filer by the state attorney general’s office, “Bias incidents and hate crimes take many forms, ranging from racially-motivated graffiti to threats of physical harm, to actual infliction of property damage or bodily injury.”
At the time of the protest, Mathews had been issued a summons by a judge for his racist confrontations and was allowed to return home. Eventually, more evidence led to harassment and assault charges and he was arrested.
“It’s heartbreaking that they felt that we weren’t doing our job,” Riedener said.
Over the phone, CBS3’s Alexandria Hoff spoke with the mother of a young victim who documented Mathews’ hateful language. She feels the system as a whole failed the community.
“The system has put that in his mind too, that our rights don’t matter, that we aren’t the same, we aren’t human beings on the level he is and that’s crazy at the end of the day when we go to war we join the military it’s all of our lives on the line for this country,” Alyia Robinson said.MORE NEWS: Reports: Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers Agree To 2 Year, $20M Deal
Mathews is scheduled for a bail hearing on Tuesday. Reidener says his department is prepared if he is released from jail, but hopes the judicial system will not allow him to return to Mount Laurel, calling him a danger to the community.