A white New Jersey man whose racist abuse of a Black neighbour went viral on social media has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Edward Cagney Mathews, 47, was filmed spitting, shouting and hurling racial slurs towards a resident at the Essex Place condominiums in Mount Laurel township, around 17 miles east of Philadelphia, on 2 July 2021.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of bias intimidation and possession of a controlled, dangerous substance with intent to distribute in October and was ordered to spend at least four years behind bars before being eligible for parole, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
According to the Philly Voice, Mathews had gone to confront the president of the condo’s home owners’ association when the neighbour tried to intervene to defuse the situation.
The viral clip showed Mathews aggressively square up to the man, use the N-word, chest bump him, and brag that he had run other Black homeowners out of town. He was charged with harassment and biased intimidation.
A search of his home found a large quantity of psilocybin muchrooms, prosecutor’s said.
The day after the video was posted online, hundreds of protestors gathered outside Mathews’ home calling for him to be locked up and face further charges. The crowds remained at the scene for hours until he was arrested by police that evening.
Prosecutors said Mathews had a pattern of terrorising at least five of his neighbours and the condo’s board members.
Mathews called his Black neighbours “monkeys,” left faeces on their property, sent them threatening emails and letters, and shot their cars with BB pellets prior to his arrest, according to prosecutors.
Mathews made a tearful apology for his “insensitive and disrespectful words in the past”, while pleading for a reduced sentence in court, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future,” he said in court.
Mathews said the racist outbursts had cost him his marriage and all of his possessions after his wife divorced him and sold their home.
He has been in custody since his arrest in July 2021, and will be credited with time served.
In a statement, Prosecutor Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw said: “Our office is committed to combatting bias crimes and sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated in our community.
“Nobody should have to endure what these victims experienced.”