In Brief

Lawmakers announce hate crimes registry bill after Mount Laurel man’s racist tirade

By: - July 30, 2021 7:02 am

The bill faces an unclear path in the Legislature. (Photo by Chris Boswell/Getty Images)

A trio of Burlington County lawmakers have proposed a public hate crimes registry in response to a Mount Laurel resident’s racist tirade against Black neighbors, a rant that was part of an apparent rise in confirmed or suspected hate crimes statewide.

The proposed registry would be a searchable database that includes the names, street addresses, and other identifiers of people convicted in New Jersey of two or more hate crimes. The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Troy Singleton, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, and Assemblyman Herb Conaway, all Democrats.

“Recent events have highlighted how pervasive bias intimidation is in our community,” Conaway said. “It is inexcusable to target an individual because of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This registry is another tool to promote public safety and will help ensure that individuals are aware of those with a history of victimization in their neighborhood.”

Edward Cagney Mathews faces 14 charges, including three bias charges, after being filmed using racial slurs while attempting to enter a neighbor’s home.

The video of Mathews, 45, spread quickly on social media before being reported in the national press. He has been remanded to custody as he awaits trial.

In a separate case, 46-year-old South River resident Elizabeta Trzeciak was charged with bias intimidation, assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct after berating a Mount Laurel motel clerk with racial slurs.

The lawmakers said Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis raised the proposal, which faces an unclear path in the Legislature.

Neither chamber is expected to hold a voting session before the November election. That leaves lawmakers with a narrow window of about two months to advance bills before the start of the next legislative session.

The sex offender registry New Jersey enacted after the brutal 1994 murder of Megan Kanka became the blueprint for the federal Megan’s Law. Civil rights groups have opposed such registries, saying they give residents a false sense of security and impede the rehabilitation of sex offenders.

New Jersey State Police reported 1,441 suspected or confirmed bias incidents last year, but that number appears to be on the rise. State Authorities have reported 817 incidents of harassment, assault, and other crimes based on protected classes in the first six months of 2021

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.