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Friday, June 5, 2020

Being Labeled A Racist Can Be a Career-Ending Charge

     At one-thirty in the morning of September 24, 2009, a Muskegon (Michigan) Police Department patrol officer on a routine traffic stop, pulled over a car driven by a 23-year-old black man named Julius Allen-Ray Johnson. The driver was on parole after having served two years in prison for drug dealing and resisting arrest.

     The officer who pulled over the car called for backup when Mr. Johnson refused to obey his commands. Muskegon officer Charles Anderson, a 38-year-old who had been on the force since 1997, responded to the call.

     At the arrival of the second officer, Julius Johnson ran from the scene with officer Anderson in pursuit. Shortly thereafter, the officer who had initiated the arrest, heard a single gunshot. When he tried to communicate with officer Anderson by car radio and received no response, he searched for the patrolman and found him and Julius Johnson lying on the ground. Mr. Johnson had been shot to death, and patrolman Anderson had a serious, blunt object head injury. The dead man was not in possession of a firearm.

     Because a white police officer had killed an unarmed black man, members of the black community and others protested the shooting as an act of police racism.

     Following an investigation of the police-involved shooting, investigators determined that officer Charles Anderson had been justified in using deadly force on grounds of self defense. In resisting arrest, Julius Johnson had seriously injured the officer, causing him to have a metal plate implanted in his head.

     Almost ten years after Julius Johnson's death, on August 7, 2009, Robert Mathis and his wife were taking a tour inside a house up for sale in Holton Township, a community twenty miles northeast of Muskegon. The house belonged to officer Charles Anderson and his wife Rachael.

     In one of the bedrooms, Robert Mathis and his wife, a black couple, saw a Confederate flag and a framed Ku Klux Klan document dating back to the 1920s. The displayed memorabilia of America's racist past in the home of a police officer caused Mr. Mathis and his wife to feel "anger, sadness and shame."

     Robert Mathis photographed the flag and the KKK document, and the next day, posted the pictures on his Facebook page. The postings created outrage and demands that this racist cop be removed from law enforcement.

     On September 12, 2019, following a police disciplinary hearing, the panel recommended terminating the employment of the 48-year-old police officer. The next day Charles Anderson was fired.

     The county prosecutor, in light of Charles Anderson's racist memorabilia, announced that his office was considering re-opening the Julius Johnson police-involved shooting case.

     Robert Mathis, on his Facebook page, wrote: "I feel sick to my stomach knowing that I walk into the home of one of the most racist people in Muskegon hiding behind his uniform and possibly harassing people of color and different nationalities."

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