White nationalist and anti-Semitic literature was discovered in several small towns in southwestern Wisconsin earlier this week, just days after a mass shooting killed 11 individuals at a Jewish synagogue in Pennsylvania.
Several residents in Baraboo, Reedsburg, and Spring Green, areas that are about an hour’s drive away from the state’s capital city of Madison, discovered flyers in their mailboxes that didn’t belong there. Entitled “WHITE LIVES MATTER,” these flyers included web links to sites promoting anti-Jewish views and pro-white talking points, according to reporting from the Baraboo News Republic.
Vehicles in Wisconsin Dells, a popular tourist destination in the state, also had the flyers placed on their windshields.
Residents in these cities were quick to recognize the gravity of the situation, in light of the recent killings that happened.
“It’s here. We’re part of this mess,” Russ Schider, a resident who received the flyer, said. “Those people who are doing this are feeling empowered right now. It’s intimidating.”
Mail carriers did their best to remove the flyers from mailboxes when they saw them, as it is a criminal act to put an unmailed document in someone else’s mailbox.
“There have been several reports of these items around the Baraboo area. We do not know who or what group distributed it,” Baraboo Postmaster Karen Caylor said.
But where negativity abounded, a positive outcome grew from it. A local business started distributing signs that read “Hate Has No Home Here,” and distributed them to residents in the area.
Wilson Creek Pottery, based out of Spring Green, urged residents to send them a direct message “if you want info to [pick up a sign] for your home or business,” they said. They also explained the matter to their followers, in case they were unaware of what had transpired.
“Last night cars in our little town got papered with white supremacist propaganda trying to promote their outlets of hate. One night later, here is our town’s response,” the business wrote, posting images of the signs.
The response was overwhelming, Wilson Creek Pottery wrote on a different Facebook post. By Tuesday, the signs had all been grabbed, so they posted the site where people could download the image for themselves.
According to research conducted by the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish population in the state of Wisconsin is less than one percent. Still, in spite of the small number of Jewish residents, these community members decided that they couldn’t be silent in the face of such vehement prejudices.