Cop Fired After Michigan Father Finds KKK Application And Confederate Memorabilia During House Tour
Rob Mathis was looking to buy a home from Michigan police officer Charles Anderson until he found walls full of Klan memorabilia.
August 09, 2019 at 9:54 pm
Update (September 16, 2019): Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson told NBC News on Thursday that police officer Charles Anderson had been fired from the force after an inquiry and disciplinary hearing.
Anderson was suspended from the Muskegon Police Department in August after a Black family discovered a framed Klu Klux Klan application and other white supremacist memorabilia during a house tour.
The Muskegon County chapter of the NAACP is now calling for many of Anderson’s cases to be reviewed, including a 2009 situation where he shot and killed an unarmed Black man but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Rob Mathis posted a photo on Facebook showing the KKK application letter, which was framed in the officer’s living room.
"On the two walls of the garage, two more confederate flags … We go upstairs to see the bedrooms … I see a gun cabinet and its a picture of the officer and another gentleman. I turned around and there is a wall with one plaque … and it was an application for the Klu Klux Klan," Mathis told MLive on August 8.
In multiple interviews, Mathis said the situation was disturbing for his kids and that he spent hours deciding whether to post it on Facebook or ignore it.
He ultimately decided that it was in the public's interest to know, but he did not include Anderson’s name in the post. Since the post, Mathis told NBC that he has received multiple death threats.
People in the comments of the Facebook post quickly tied the KKK application to Anderson and pointed out he shot and killed 23-year-old Julius Johnson during a traffic stop in 2009.
Prosecutors said Anderson acted in self-defense, but Johnson’s sister said she heard him begging for his life. They later arrested Johnson’s sister and put her in jail for that claim.
Thanks to the massive uproar around the situation, the Muskegon County prosecutor’s office told MLive they would review Johnson’s case in light of what Mathis found.
Peterson added that the city would release a full report on the investigation into Anderson this week.
Original: A Michigan police department was forced to put an officer on paid leave after a Black father found a framed Klu Klux Klan application and other white supremacist memorabilia during a house tour.
Rob Mathis and his family were looking to buy the five-bedroom home in Muskegon County owned by police officer Charles Anderson. As Mathis and his family toured the home on Wednesday, they began to see confederate flags and white supremacist memorabilia.
"On the two walls of the garage, two more confederate flags … We go upstairs to see the bedrooms … I see a gun cabinet and its a picture of the officer and another gentleman. I turned around and there is a wall with one plaque … and it was an application for the Klu Klux Klan," Mathis told MLive.
"I told my son … 'This is a Klan house. Let's get out right now.' I was trying to calm down because I felt so violated. The realtor kept apologizing for having my daughter and my wife and us exposed to that kind of racism."
Mathis waited a few hours and prayed about the situation, but he decided it was important for the public to know that Anderson was a proud Klan member.
His Facebook post about the KKK application immediately went viral because Anderson was cleared in 2009 after shooting and killing
23-year-old Julius Johnson.
"He might have done something to some other minority. If he did, maybe me making this post on Facebook will help someone," Mathis said.
Anderson, who has been on the force for 20 years, shot Johnson during a traffic stop on the morning of September 23, 2009. Prosecutors at the time said he was justified, but Johnson's sister told police she heard him beg for his life before Anderson shot him.
After clearing Anderson they charged Johnson's sister for lying to police and sentenced her to three months in jail, setting off protests from the local NAACP office.
The Muskegon County chapter of the NAACP is now calling for all of Anderson's past cases to be reviewed.
MLive was able to reach Anderson after his suspension was announced.
He told a reporter, “They said not to talk about it. That’s what they told me. Because it’s under internal investigation they said not to make a statement.”
Anderson's wife laughed when a WOOD reporter asked her whether her husband was a Klan member.
“No, he’s not, no, no,” she said, chuckling. “He can’t say anything right now, I wish we could because it would probably set a lot of things straight.”
Mathis, a Black army veteran, said after walking around the property he felt like he needed to be "dipped in hand sanitizer."
"I'm still disgusted. This officer is supposed to be a public servant. You can't serve your community and be a racist. There are people of all different nationalities that you have to protect. You can't just protect one group of people," Mathis said.
On Thursday, the Muskegon government announced that it was investigating Anderson and putting him on paid leave. But Mathis' wife, Reyna, said the damage had already been done. She had to explain to her young children why their father was so upset and what the memorabilia meant.
"We were told he collects antiques … For him to have it sitting there while selling your home makes no sense," she said.
"He left it there proudly. If you're selling your house, you don't leave that out. My daughter is with me, and she's 12 … and we have to break it down to her. It was very overwhelming."