Fired police officer defends KKK application, Confederate flags in his Michigan home

Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press
Charles Anderson testifies at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice on March 20 in Michigan.
Charles Anderson testifies at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice on March 20 in Michigan.

DETROIT – A Michigan police officer was embroiled in controversy last month after a man discovered Ku Klux Klan memorabilia inside his home, which was up for sale. The former officer said the reason for having the items is his love for history and a classic TV show.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson and the city attorney's office released a 421-page report on the investigation of Charles Anderson, as well as his history as a police officer before he was fired.

According to the report, Robert Mathis toured Anderson's home with his family and a real estate agent Aug. 7. He posted a picture on Facebook of a framed KKK application he found. Mathis said in the post that he and his wife, Reyna, had been house hunting for more than a month and thought the house "would be perfect" for them. He mentioned seeing Confederate flags on the walls, dining room table and garage.

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In an interview with the city, Anderson confirmed that he had a Confederate flag hanging in his garage, a flag-decorated hot pad on his dining room table and a framed, blank copy of a KKK application from the 1920s.

He said the flags are part of his extensive "Dukes of Hazzard" collection. Anderson "loves everything" about the show and has been to the fan convention, Duke Fest, several times.

Anderson said the reason for the KKK application is related to his passion for U.S. history from the late 1800s to the 1960s. He describes himself as an amateur historian who likes to collect antique items from that time period. He bought the application about six years ago in Indiana.

The former police officer did not remove the item from the wall because he forgot it was in his antique collection room. He said if Robert and Reyna Mathis had contacted him, he would have explained why he had those items and apologized.

Anderson adamantly denied he is a part of the KKK and pointed out that as a Catholic, he would be considered "a target" of the hate group.

Mathis is a U.S. Army veteran who was born in Detroit. He said in a news interview with MLive that Reyna is a native of Muskegon, Michigan.

In the report, Mathis said he toured the home because he and Reyna were looking for a residence that had a significant amount of land so the two of them, along with their 12-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son, could spend more time outdoors.

Mathis, who is black, said he became displeased when he saw the Confederate flags, and the KKK application was a deal-breaker for making an offer on the house.

"I was like 'Oh my god! This is, this is, oh, I’m getting out of here,' " he said.

Mathis was disturbed not only by the flag but also because Anderson was a police officer.

"If he had just been anybody else," he said, "I would’ve just told my wife, you know, let’s put an offer in on the house."

When asked if he contacted one of the owners, Mathis said he did not. He said he's had run-ins with police and might have been arrested by Anderson.

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The report confirmed that the officer had six encounters with Robert and Reyna Mathis, dating to July 2008. In the first case, Robert was pulled over by Anderson for speeding, while Reyna was in the passenger seat. They both exited the vehicle and refused the officer's orders. Anderson placed Reyna under arrest for refusing to follow his orders, and she struck him in the face and eye with her hand, causing minor injury. Robert was issued a citation and released from the scene. Reyna was jailed for obstruction and assault on an officer. She was sentenced to 60 days and $414 in fines.

In October 2008, Reyna Mathis was involved in a bar fight and accused of assaulting another person. She was found to be intoxicated and was arrested by Anderson for two Fail to Appear bench warrants. Reyna went to jail for the incident.

During Anderson's 22-year career as a police officer, he had two complaints made against him. A complaint in 2010 alleged that he acted "rudely and disrespectfully" when he arrested two people and used pepper spray. In 2016, a complaint stated that the officer did not give back a driver's license to an arrestee and that he did not secure a vehicle after the arrest.

According to WZZM-TV, the report gave Peterson enough reason to fire Anderson this month.

The station reported that since posting the KKK application on Facebook, Robert and Reyna Mathis have received death threats.

Follow Micah Walker on Twitter: @Micah_walker701

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Muskegon police officer Charles Anderson defends KKK application