COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. - The Dane County Sheriff's Office and Madison Police Department confirmed reports of white supremacist flyers found near people's homes.
A Cottage Grove resident posted a message to Facebook on Monday, saying he came home and found the flyer in his driveway.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the flyers have been found on North Fair Oaks Avenue, the Town of Blooming Grove, Cottage Grove and Albion.
Madison police reported the flyers to the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Statewide Intelligence Center, police spokesperson Joel DeSpain said. The Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center reviewed the materials and told MPD that it does not appear to contain a threat or indicate other criminal behavior.
Depending on the circumstances, it could become a crime if the person who received the flyer felt they were targeted. In that case, they should contact police, DeSpain said.
"We take these types of things seriously," DeSpain said. "The people who would distribute this type of literature are seeking publicity. And the best thing our subject matter experts at the Madison Police Department say is to not give them publicity."
Mahoney said the flyers are being collected by his department and are being treated as evidence.
"I've seen them, and they are extremely hateful and discriminatory," Mahoney said. "This should be unacceptable to everybody in our community. Some say it's free speech. Well it's hateful free speech. It's hateful speech that leads to potential violence, to people feeling less safe. Everyone should be taking this seriously."
Mahoney said people reported finding the flyers in plastic bags weighed down by rocks in their driveways.
"If this is meant as an intent to intimidate or spread hate in our community, there are repercussions and there will be," Mahoney said. "It's this kind of activity that stirs hatred in the community, much like what happened in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio and many other places across our country. If we continue to allow hateful speech and hateful action to occur, we are in essence turning a blind eye to the potential of violence in our community."
If you see a flyer in your neighborhood or have any information or surveillance video of suspicious activity surrounding the distribution of these flyers, you are asked to report it to your local law enforcement agency. MPD is asking people to not share photos of the flyers on social media so they don't get any more publicity than they already have.
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