Rob Mathis was ready to make an offer on the house—a grand five-bedroom home sitting on 22 acres in the small town of Holton, Michigan. But during a recent tour of the property, a quick rundown of the home’s decor put Mathis and his wife, Reyna on edge: A NASCAR-decorated garage housing two Confederate flags, Confederate placemats (imagine loving the the Dixie flag so much you can’t even stomach eating your boiled chicken without looking at it). Oh, and on top of all that—the home belonged to a cop.
It was all so on-the-nose that Mathis found himself wondering, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this was a Klansman’s house?” he said in an interview with MLive.
Then he and his son went into a bedroom and saw, mounted on the wall behind a vanity, a framed, yellowing, whole-ass KKK application.
“Application for citizenship in the invisible empire: Knights of the Klu Klux Klan” the empty application read.
“We have to get out right now,” Mathis told his son, immediately leaving the home. “I just felt so violated.”
Where did the cop, identified as 48-year-old Charles Anderson, get the application? Who knew the KKK had an application process? Was anyone ever rejected? Do you get one (1) standard-issue white sheet during onboarding? Where does one even find an antique KKK application in Michigan—and, most saliently for a motherfucker trying to sell his house—why would you leave it up on display?
But the story takes an even darker turn. For reasons that should be fairly obvious, Mathis and wife, who is Latina, were rattled by the fact that a cop could have any possible Klan affiliation (even if it were “just” a love for racist memorabilia). But as it turns out, Anderson fatally shot a black man, 23-year-old Julius Johnson, during a traffic stop in 2009.
An investigation cleared Anderson of any wrongdoing in Johnson’s death. From the Washington Post:
According to the findings of an investigation from the county’s prosecutor, Johnson beat Anderson in the head, which caused the police officer, who said he feared for his life, to shoot and kill the black man. Johnson’s sister, Tunisia Phillips, initially told investigators that she heard her brother beg for his life before Anderson shot him, according to WOOD.
The prosecutor later cleared Anderson of wrongdoing and eventually charged Phillips with lying to police, prompting protests from Johnson’s family and the NAACP, according to MLive.
Mathis went public with what he found in Anderson’s home, writing a Facebook post and talking to local media outlets about the harrowing experience. The City of Muskegon placed Anderson on administrative leave on Thursday, “pending a thorough investigation” of the officer. In light of the findings, Eric Hood, president of the Muskegon County chapter of the NAACP, has called for Anderson’s interactions with people of color to be reviewed.
Anderson and his wife told local outlets that they want to talk about the incident and “set a lot of things straight,” but were instructed not to because of the ongoing investigation.
If the explanation is that the Andersons simply have a predilection for racist memorabilia (as a cautionary tale? as a lover of fucked-up history?), Reyna Mathis isn’t buying it.
“My thing is...you post stuff that you’re proud of,” she told MLive. “For him to have it sitting there, knowing you’re selling your home...he didn’t know who was walking in there, blacks or whites or whoever was walking in there. But he left it there proudly.”