Michigan Officer Under Investigation After KKK Document Found in Home
|thenorthstar||Aug 14, 2019|
A police officer from Michigan has been placed on administrative leave after potential homebuyers found items associated with white supremacy during a tour of the house.
Robert and Reyna Mathis, a couple, told WOOD-TV they were touring Officer Charles Anderson’s home on August 7 in Muskegon, Michigan with their real estate agent. When they entered the home, they saw Confederate flags and an application for the Ku Klux Klan framed on the wall.
“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,” Robert Mathis told the news station. “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 told the news station that he had noticed the owner of the home was a police officer because he saw pictures of him inside the home in his uniform. While on the tour, Mathis took a picture of the framed document and later posted it to Facebook, but the image has recently been removed from social media. Following the news, the City of Muskegon Government posted to Facebook, stating there would be more information about the incident once the investigation is complete.
“The Muskegon Police Department has opened an internal investigation after a social media post was brought to our attention accusing an officer of being in possession of certain items associated with a white supremacy group. The officer was immediately placed on administrative leave, pending a thorough investigation,” the statement read.
“The City of Muskegon requests your patience as we thoroughly investigate this issue. Further information will be available upon completion of the investigation,” the statement continued.
Anderson’s wife, Rachael, told WOOD-TV that her husband was not associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Despite this, Civil Rights organizations have asked the Muskegon Police Department and city officials to conduct a review of Anderson’s conduct while on-duty, WZZM reported.
Muskegon County NAACP’s President Eric Hood told the news station that he wants Anderson’s traffic stop and arrest records to be reviewed to see if there’s a disproportionate number of people of color who were ticketed or arrested.
"Is this his ideology? Is this what he believes? Does he carry this out onto his job when he goes out," Hood, a retired police officer and the city’s Vice Mayor, told WZZM.
Hood said the NAACP is waiting for the outcome of the investigation and urges others to remain patient. "[Like] the NAACP we're waiting patiently for results of this inquiry," Hood told WZZM. "I would just say to the community to do the same, peacefully and respectfully do the same and see what the outcome is."
On August 8, the Galveston Police Department in Texas issued an apology after a photo went viral of two mounted white police officers leading a Black suspect in handcuffs with a rope tied to him, a display many found reminiscent of the slavery era. An onlooker took the disturbing photo on August 3 and posted it to social media, sparking outrage.
In a statement, the police department said Officer P. Brosch and Officer A. Smith arrested Donald Neely, 43, on criminal trespassing charges at 306 22nd Street. The department stated that Neely was handcuffed “and a line was clipped to the handcuffs.” Neely was reportedly “warned against trespassing upon this specific location several times.” Galveston Police Chief Vernon L.
Hale, III apologized in the statement and said he understood the “negative perception” of the arrest technique. “First and foremost I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest,” Hale said in the statement.
“My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”
Despite the department’s apology, many organizations were still outraged by the arrest. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on an investigation of the two officers, stating that the photo “reminds us of slavery and is indicative of a serious problem we have in this country.”
“Trust and legitimacy are vital to law enforcement’s ability to serve those they are sworn to protect. Offensive actions like this undermine both of these tenets. The photo of Galveston police officers leading an African American man down the street with a rope attached to his handcuffs is disturbing and offensive,” ADL Interim Southwest Regional Director Gail Glasser said in a statement.
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.