While shopping for a home in Holton, Michigan in Muskegon County, black homebuyer Rob Mathis found the house decorated in a way he was not expecting — the spacious five-bedroom home on 22-acres of woodland outside of Grand Rapids was decorated in KKK-chic style.
The Confederate flag placemats and the not one but two Confederate flags in Charles Anderson’s garage were — no pun intended — red flags for Mathis.
““I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if this was a Klansman’s house?” he told MLive.
It was, apparently, a Klansman’s house.
Framed on the wall in one of the bedrooms of a house presently owned by a Muskegon police officer was a yellowed document — an “Application for Citizenship in the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Incorporated)” was proudly displayed.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, let’s go and get out of here right now,'” recounted Mathis.
Application seems to require sponsorship from two KKK members, designated K1 and K2 on the form, as well as signing a statement pledging loyalty.
“I, the undersigned, am a native-born, true and loyal citizen of the United States of America being a white male Gentile person of temperate habits, sound of mind and a believer in the tenets of the Christian religion, the maintenance of White Supremacy and the principles of a ‘pure Americanism,’ do most respectfully apply for membership in the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” reads the application. “I guarantee on my honor to conform strictly to any rules and regulations regarding my ‘naturalization’ and continuance of my membership, and at all times a strict and loyal obedience to your constitutional authority and the constitution and laws of the fraternity.”
The Muskegon police have opened an internal investigation and as a result Anderson has been advised to not make any public statements regarding the KKK application. His wife assured local news that Anderson was not a member of the Klan but said she couldn’t be more forthcoming.
“I wish we could because it would probably set a lot of things straight,” she added.
There is a trend observed at least as far back as 2006 that white supremacists were seeking out jobs in law enforcement. In a heavily-redacted bulletin, the FBI cautioned that white supremacists actively recruited members of law enforcement and sought to join law enforcement to sabotage investigations into their operations and to gather intelligence on communities of color.
And Anderson wouldn’t even be the first cop this year to face scrutiny for his ties to white supremacy. In fact, it’s been a widespread problem in 2019 — a June report found 1,500 police officers in cities across the United States linked to racist and violent activity on Facebook. In April, a school cop in Virginia was revealed to be a member of white nationalist Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group Identity Evropa. In July, a Louisiana cop was fired for threats to assassinate Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Anderson fatally shot someone in 2009 who he claims assaulted him, that incident rang alarm bells with the NAACP, according to local news reports.
“You can’t serve your community and be a racist,” Mathis told MLive. “You can’t protect one group of people.”
That’s not a sentiment as readily embraced by the city of Muskegon, which stressed to local news that it needed to investigate how, or even if, this association affected Anderson’s ability to fairly police the community. 31% of Muskegon’s 38,000 residents are black.
And despite Anderson’s wife assuring that her husband could set the record straight if he was permitted to speak publicly, Mathis’ wife Reyna — who is Hispanic — is skeptical. She said that her family collects and displays memorabilia related to the Detroit Red Wings because they are proud of that association, and so questions why else a family would frame and display a KKK application. Especially considering Anderson had no clue who would view his house.
“It was basically also telling me that he only [wanted] whites only to purchase his home,” Rob Mathis said to MLive. “People who had that type of hate in their heart, he wanted those people.”
Muskegon police and Anderson himself are refraining from comment pending investigation, and the Muskegon County chapter of the NAACP has called for that investigation to be full and thorough.
“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 chapter president Eric Hood.
Anderson has been placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation.
(Featured Image: ABC/Fair Use/Rob Mathis/Public Domain)
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.