MUSKEGON, Mich. – A Michigan police officer who was fired after a black man spotted a framed Ku Klux Klan application inside his home told investigators the item is just part of his antique collection, a new police report shows.
Charles Anderson was fired from the Muskegon Police Department on September 12 following an investigation after potential homebuyers said they saw a framed KKK application and Confederate flags while touring his five-bedroom home.
The City of Muskegon released a 421-page report Monday detailing the investigation’s findings. In an interview included in the report, Anderson told investigators that he stored a framed blank copy of a Ku Klux Klan membership application from the 1920s in a room dedicated to his “extensive” antique collection.
Anderson said one of his passions is US history, specifically the late 1800s to the 1960s, and he likes to collects items from that period. He removed most of his collection to prepare the room for real estate showings, but forgot the application was still hanging on the wall, the report states.
“If they had asked me I would’ve been more than happy to explain. I would’ve apologized, advised that I meant no harm by it and I would explain that it is from the 1920’s, it’s dated. It’s not filled out. It has no one’s name on it and it was part of history and that’s … I mean … it was a mistake,” he told an investigator, according to a transcript of his interview.
Anderson said he bought the application from a vendor in Indiana about six years ago and only thought of it as a piece of history.
“It’s our heritage. I mean it occurred, good or bad and it’s part of history and I love history and I have thousands of antiques and I could show them to you, I have thousands,” he said, according to the report.
During the interview, Anderson said he had a Confederate flag hanging in his garage and a flag-decorated hot pad on his dining room table. Both items, he said, are part of his collection of “Dukes of Hazzard” memorabilia.
“I love the Dukes of Hazzard and that’s the reason for the Confederate flags. They mean nothing other than it was just part of that collection,” he told the investigator.
Anderson said he loves the TV show, has gone to fan conventions and owns several items, including an autographed original script and General Lee cars.
When asked by the investigator, the former officer denied any bias or being a KKK supporter or member, the report shows. Anderson’s wife, Rachael, told CNN affiliate WOOD last month that he was not a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
“No, he’s not, no, no,” she said. “He can’t say anything right now, I wish we could because it would probably set a lot of things straight,” she added.
Anderson has not responded to CNN’s repeated requests for comment.
Homebuyers knew ex-police officer
Robert and Reyna Mathis were with their real estate agent when they spotted the items in Anderson’s home. He was not present during the tour.
“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 about the experience on Facebook.
Following an outpouring of support on Mathis’ post, the city of Muskegon responded with a Facebook post reassuring residents that “the officer was immediately placed on administrative leave, pending a thorough investigation.”
The report released Monday indicates the Mathis couple had some encounters with Anderson in the past.
In 2008, Anderson arrested Reyna Mathis after he pulled the couple over for speeding. During the traffic stop, the couple exited the vehicle and refused orders to get back inside and Reyna Mathis “struck him in the face and eye with her hand,” the report says. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail for assault on a police officer, the report indicates.
The former officer interacted with the couple at least other five times during service calls, some involving domestic disturbances.