A Michigan police officer is out of a job following an investigation into racist memorabilia, including a framed Ku Klux Klan application, found inside his home early last month.
A Muskegon city manager confirmed the firing of Charles Anderson on Thursday but declined to say more on the matter. However, officials said a redacted copy of the investigation report will be shared with the public in the coming week, according to MLive.
Anderson, a 22-year veteran of the Muskegon Police Department, came under scrutiny in August after an African-American couple on a real estate tour of his home discovered the racist memorabilia. Rob Mathis, who was looking at the home with his wife and kids, said he immediately cut their walk-through short after stumbling upon the “disturbing” document.
He later posted about the incident on Facebook, writing: “I’m seeing confederate flags on the walls the dining room table and even the garage. I’m thinking to myself as a joke, ‘I’m walking to the imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan‘s house right now.”
To his surprise, when Mathis walked into the main bedroom he found a blank application for the KKK framed and hanging on the wall.
“I feel sick to my stomach knowing that I walk to the home of one of the most racist people in Muskegon hiding behind his uniform,” he added.
Speaking to Grand Rapids station WZZM 13, the local father expressed relief upon learning of Anderson’s firing and called it “great news for the community.” Anderson was initially placed on leave following the incident, but a month-long inquiry into whether he’d violated city policy ended with his termination this week.
Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis has remained tight-lipped on his department’s review of the incident, but said investigators found “no smoking gun.”
“Some questions arose that we’d like to have further answered,” Lewis said, according to MLive. “But I can tell you this, after reviewing this — and it was a quite lengthy investigation — what you saw on social media pretty much stands the way it is. There was no smoking gun revealed to us or anything that shocked us.”
In 2009, Anderson was cleared of any wrongdoing in the deadly shooting of an unarmed Black man. He reportedly shot in self-defense after the suspect, Julius Johnson, beat Anderson with his own police radio.
News of the racist memorabilia sparked calls by activists for prosecutors to give the case another look. Earlier this month, county prosecutor D.J. Hilson said his office was awaiting the results of the city’s inquiry before deciding whether to re-evaluate the deadly shooting.
Although he’s glad Anderson is finally off the force, Rob Mathis said he fears it’ll do little to change what he sees as a culture of officers protecting each other’s bad behavior.
“There are other officers within the force that have been to Anderson’s home [and] were well aware of the Confederate flags,” he told MLive. “(Officers who) contributed to that behavior, instead of saying we as a police force are supposed to have good attitudes when making decisions for our community.”
“These KKK applications, flags, they’re not indicative of people who should protect and serve our community,” he added.
Watch more in the video below.