Muskegon officer on leave after KKK item found at home

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon police officer is under investigation and on paid administrative leave after items associated with a white supremacy group were found at his home.

The Muskegon Police Department has opened an internal investigation after a social media post was brought to our…

Posted by City of Muskegon Government on Thursday, August 8, 2019

The trouble began when a Muskegon couple toured Officer Charles Anderson’s Holton-area home recently. 

Robert Mathis, who is black, noticed several confederate flags during the tour of the for-sale home conducted by his own realtor. In one of the bedrooms, the couple noticed a framed Ku Klux Klan document. 

“There’s just this one plaque on the wall, so I walk over to the wall and take a closer look, it said it was a KKK application,” Mathis recalled during a Thursday interview. “I said, ‘I want to get out [of] here right now.’”

“To know that I was walking around on property associated with some type of racism, some type of hate, when I got outside I felt like I needed to be dipped in sanitizer,” he said.

Mathis posted the KKK document to social media, and it was shared hundreds of times. One of the people who viewed the post apparently alerted Muskegon city officials.

Mathis said he was aware the home was owned by an officer because he noticed pictures of him in uniform in the home.

24 Hour News 8 went to the home to talk to Anderson, who was there, but his wife, Rachael, came to the door. 

“He can’t say anything right now, I wish we could because it would probably set a lot of things straight,” Rachael Anderson said.

When asked if her husband was a Klan member, she answered: “No, he’s not, no, no.” 

Charles Anderson was previously in the news when he was involved in an officer-involved shooting investigation.

While on duty, Anderson shot and killed Julius Johnson in September 2009. Johnson was the passenger in a car that police tried to stop. The car took off, and police followed.

Anderson alleges once in an alleyway, Johnson attacked him, beating him with his own baton and radio. Johnson told investigators he nearly blacked out and feared he was going to die. That’s when he shot Johnson.

Charles Anderson’s injuries following the 2009 incident.

Johnson’s sister initially told investigators she heard her brother beg for his life before the officer shot him, but prosecutors contended she wasn’t close enough to the scene to hear that. She was eventually charged with lying to police and sentenced to 3 months in jail.

Anderson was later cleared in the shooting.

In 2009, the then-NAACP president, Rev. William Anderson, wanted a federal investigation that never came. 

“While there is no quick fix to these problems, we must face them responsibly, and persistently. That means whatever we start — we must finish,” the NAACP leader said in 2009. 

Now, the Muskegon County NAACP’s President Eric Hood says the incident is concerning. 

“We want a thorough investigation to be sure that when he goes out there and puts on that uniform and performs his duties as an officer that he’s being fair and impartial,” said Hood, who also serves as Muskegon’s vice mayor. 

He says as a former police officer between 1998 and 2008, he believes the department has come a long way and asks for the community to be patient.

But he says the NAACP will be watching and demanding answers. 

“Why would he leave it up knowing that his house was showing to be sold?” Hood said

The Mathis family says that while their son was friends with Julius Johnson, they were unaware the officer tied to his shooting owns the Holton-area home.

24 Hour News 8 made multiple attempts to contact Anderson for comment on Thursday.

The city continues to investigate, but the family who found the KKK application wants Anderson’s cases involving people of color to be re-examined. 

“I like antiques, but I collect things that I represent you can go in my basement. We have Detroit Lions, Red Wings, Michigan stuff, everything we associate ourselves with,” Rena Mathis said. “So why would you collect something you don’t associate with yourself?” 

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