Jane was shopping for Super Bowl snacks at the Hudson Target last weekend when she found a recruitment flyer for a white supremacist group in the cereal aisle.
"The more you read, the worse it gets," she said. "It was just like, this is crazy, this is actually here."
Jane, who is Jewish and is using a changed name to protect her identity, isn't alone in her experience. Within the last week, Hudson residents say they've also spotted flyers for the Church of Creativity left on cars at the Hudson Aldi and County Market.
The Church of Creativity, also called the Creativity Movement or Creativity Alliance, has a history of violent crime and is deemed a neo-Nazi group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The group has undergone multiple name changes since its founding in the 1970s. Its website refers to the group as both the Creativity Alliance and Church of Creativity.
"I felt super uncomfortable being there," Jane said. "I just grabbed a couple of things and just left."
Before leaving, Jane alerted store management of the flyer. A spokesperson for Target says the company is "actively investigating the matter."
A spokesperson for the Hudson police department said it had been notified of the flyers.
"Hudson is such an inclusive city, like we have the Hudson Inclusion Alliance," Jane told Bring Me The News. "But, looking around while I’m shopping, it’s like, who are these people who might have put them there?"
In the 1990s, the Creativity Movement – with its name changing to the "World Church of the Creator" in 1996 – was considered "one of the most notorious hate groups," according to the ADL, with several of its members convicted for violent hate crimes throughout the decade. It was originally founded by a former Florida state legislator in the 1970s.
The SPLC says the group has "all but collapsed" since the early 2000s in the wake of multiple lawsuits, "leaving only weak remnants."
The group uses its website to provide downloads of flyers, including one identical to the one Jane found. This particular flyer has been found on college campuses across the country in recent years.
Reports of hate group activity have been up since 2015, when the number of hate groups tracked by the SPLC spiked from 784 to 892. In 2020, the organization tracked 838 active hate groups.
The SPLC's 2018 list of hate groups included Citizens for the St. Croix Valley. The Hudson-area group has not appeared in the years since. At the time, the SPLC said it added the group because of its perpetuation of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and hosting events with anti-Muslim speakers.
In 2018, ADL said it tracked 1,187 flyer sightings, which it called "record-setting." The next year, it tracked 2,724, including two in Hudson. In 2020, the ADL recorded 5,118 incidences of propaganda.
The SPLC map of known hate groups does not currently list the Creativity Movement in Wisconsin. The closest state with a reported presence is Illinois. However, the ADL notes, some groups "exist primarily online with no real-world geographical focus."
Carla Hill, senior investigative researcher at the ADL's Center on Extremism, wrote a piece for NBC explaining how the groups use flyers to both recruit members and intimidate people of color.
"When propaganda appears ... on doorsteps or car windshields or public bulletin boards, it is important not only for community leaders to condemn it, but also for law enforcement to be fully informed about such incidents," Hill wrote. "Communities nationwide should view these propaganda incidents as opportunities for learning, for speaking up and for actively rejecting this growing trend. Every time that happens, we’re all a little bit stronger."
Jane says her experience has inspired her to do just that.
"It just breaks my heart that they even felt like they could even have a voice here," she said. "To know they felt comfortable to leave them there, I felt very empowered to figure out a way to get involved with ... combatting hate groups in my area."