“No one cares whether this racist is charged again; that’s not the problem; it’s a symptom.” “The illness is poor police work in our police department,” said Marcus Sibley, president of the NAACP’s Southern Burlington County chapter in New Jersey.
Sibley is angry that Burlington County New Jersey prosecutor Scott Coffina found the Mount Laurel Police Department did nothing wrong in its investigation of 43 complaints of racist harassment filed against Edward Mathews, 45, over a five-year period. Mathews was arrested in July after protests and viral video brought attention to the case.
Coffina’s report, released on Oct. 5, addressed critical issues about the Mount Laurel Police Department’s handling of the case.
He found it “difficult to find fault with Mount Laurel police on an incident-by-incident basis” because “there’s no indication that Mount Laurel police were dismissive of the complaints,” “no evidence Mathews was afforded special treatment,” and “difficult to find fault with Mount Laurel police on an incident-by-incident basis.”
Following the county prosecutor’s report, the Mount Laurel Police Department issued a statement stating, “MLPD did not fail to investigate the offenses that were reported to them, and they did not offer Matthews special treatment.” They found that the MLPD was not dismissive of Matthews complaints and that each one was taken seriously.”
Sibley wonders why, if Mount Laurel police conducted a thorough investigation, he has been charged with more offenses since his arrest in the summer.
Mathews was the subject of a viral video in which he is seen repeatedly hurling racial slurs at his Black neighbors in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, including calling them “monkeys” and using the N-word. In the video, Mathews confronts a Black resident at his front door before being told to leave by a Mount Laurel police officer.
According to Sibley, the videotaped event is just one of many racially fraught encounters between Mathews and his Black neighbors.
He claims Mathews harassed a young Black woman by slingshotting her car window and spreading the N-word in feces on her car. “She had been coming to the police for three years,” Sibley said, adding that law enforcement had done little to help her.
According to Sibley, there is a wider, more systemic problem with policing in Burlington County, New Jersey, that stems from a lack of accountability.
A poll was created by the Southern Burlington County NAACP chapter and other local chapters to measure the community’s interactions with police in the area. “They’ve had bad encounters,” according to Sibley.
Sibley intends to present the poll results to local politicians in order to persuade them that area police departments require more accountability and substantive policy change. He understands that protesting in the streets will not change the way cops do their jobs.
“Screaming in the streets in the midst of a pandemic hasn’t changed anything.” “We still don’t have anything significantly different than we did before George Floyd,” Sibley remarked.