During a real estate tour of a local police officer’s home, a black man couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw “racist” memorabilia hanging in the bedroom. Soon after he reported the controversial image, the department decided to terminate the 22-year veteran officer.
When Robert Mathis and his wife, Reyna, were touring a two-story Muskegon home, the Michigan couple felt that the residence had everything they could want in order for them to make an offer. However, once they stepped into one of the bedrooms, all they could think about was getting out of the house as soon as possible.
While inspecting the home, Mathis noticed several Confederate flags in various locations throughout the residence. Although he personally didn’t like the historic symbol, it didn’t stop him from considering purchasing the home. It wasn’t until he spotted a framed document in another room that made up his mind for him.
Completely awestruck, Mathis snapped a photo of medium-sized picture frame hanging next to the bed. In the frame was an original Ku Klux Klan application, perfectly preserved without any writing on it. It was then that Mathis was determined to expose the owner, 22-year veteran Officer Charles Anderson, as a racist.
“As we are walking to the house 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. So to my surprise as I walk into the bedroom there’s an application for the Ku Klux Klan in a frame on the wall and this home is an officer of the Muskegon Police Department. I immediately stopped my walk-through and informed the realtor that I am not writing an offer on this home and I am leaving now,” Mathis posted on Facebook.
Mathis posted the photo on social media for the world to see, calling out Anderson’s alleged bigotry. He even accused the police officer of “possibly harassing people of color and different nationalities” for having the document on display in his home.
“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 and possibly harassing people of color and different nationalities,” Mathis wrote.
Following an investigation into racist memorabilia in Anderson’s home, Muskegon Police Department confirmed that the officer had been terminated after a disciplinary hearing and subsequent suspension, MLive reports. Although Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis admitted that they found no “smoking gun,” suggesting that hanging racist memorabilia isn’t indicative of behavior, but that Anderson’s image as a police officer was damaged beyond repair.
“Some questions arose that we’d like to have further answered,” Lewis said. “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,” Lewis said. “There was no smoking gun revealed to us or anything that shocked us.”
Upon hearing of Anderson’s firing, Mathis was pleased with the department’s decision, adding that he was “glad the city was moving forward in a positive direction.” He then publicly announced that he was “fighting the good fight” while thanking everyone who exposed the police officer and demanded his termination.
Anderson first made headlines for his involvement in the 2009 death of 23-year-old Julius Johnson, a black man he had pulled over during a routine traffic stop. Anderson took the fatal shots after Johnson hit him in the head with a police radio and “another blunt object,” which required the officer to have a metal plate put in his head, according to FOX News. Anderson was eventually cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation.
It was Anderson’s involvement in Johnson’s death that sparked nationwide accusations of racially-motivated police brutality. Of course, Mathis’ discovery was the final nail in the coffin for Anderson’s career and reputation.
Anderson hasn’t come forward with any explanation as to his reasoning for displaying the document, as he was only recently allowed to speak about the incident. However, the damage is already done, and he likely won’t be getting a job in public service anytime soon.
Whether he truly harbors a racial bias was irrelevant to the public. The crowd demanding Anderson’s termination acted as judge, jury, and executioner based on the accusation of racism. Disturbingly, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to judge what’s in the hearts of men, and it’s a responsibility that comes with serious consequences.