NJ man’s racist rant blamed on booze: Mayor wants federal probe
A day after angry protestors gathered outside the home of a man whose racist tirade was captured on video, the mayor of Mount Laurel is calling for a federal hate crimes investigation.
Mayor Stephen Steglik issued statement saying, "The events that have transpired in Mount Laurel have shed light upon larger systemic issues, throughout our state and country."
In a viral video, Edward Matthews is seen and heard using racial slurs, including the N-word, when confronting a neighbor. His tirade continues even as police arrive. He eventually storms off.
He is charged with bias intimidation based on his actions in the video.
After the video went viral, more than 100 protestors showed up at Matthews' home.
Steglik says he has met with members of the community and called on the Mount Laurel Council to form a diversity and inclusion board.
While Steglik defended the police, he criticized the courts.
"When a judge ignores the pleas from local police to issue an arrest warrant the day of a widely reported incident despite a history of perpetual harassment, that is a problem within our system that only hamstrings our police from protecting our residents," he said.
When words are hurled that have deep-seeded meanings followed by someone physically disrespecting someone based on their race, this should be treated as more than a random altercation. That’s why I am calling for a federal hate crime investigation into Matthews’ actions and words caught on video. Matthews’ behavior, both physically and verbally, shows an individual with a deep seeded anger and bigotry and this must be addressed.
The Burlington County prosecutor announced his office is launching an independent investigation into Matthews' past behavior, but would also review the police departments response to resident complaints.
The prosecutor also said some of the protestors could face charges for throwing water bottles, breaking windows and causing other property damage.
Matthews told 6 ABC Action News he was drunk at the time of his tirade on Friday and said he was out of line. He asked for forgiveness and wanted to make things up to his neighborhood. His ex-wife, meanwhile, accused the media of blowing things out of proportion.
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