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Neo-Nazi Music Distributor’s Leaked Customer Data Provides Identities and Insights

A Hatewatch investigation into leaked customer data of Sweden-based neo-Nazi hate music distributor Midgard revealed purchasers including a Wisconsin police officer and a known white nationalist whose name continued to show up in Midgard purchases months after his death.

As swords clash on shields, and fire fills the air
Our enemy is driven to retreat
Blood stains the earth, they scatter in fear
We know now that we have got them beat

The lyrics above from Skrewdriver’s Hail Victory album describe a world engulfed in racist violence. According to leaked data from Midgard, white nationalist Craig Spaulding supposedly purchased this album Sept. 7, 2021, or about five months after he reportedly died from an accidental gunshot wound.

Skrewdriver is an infamous hate music band from Britain that helped to establish a pipeline to recruit and radicalize listeners to the racist ideologies of the far right. Hate music refers to musicians, labels and distributors of musical genres that promote racist and antisemitic hatred, and often present a violent worldview. An investigation into the Midgard leak provides an entry point to examine the continued relevance of hate music to the larger far right and identify the types of people in the U.S. who are most responsible for keeping a major hate music distributor in business. The Midgard data leak highlights how hate music still resonates as an effective tactic for the far right today, and how its popularity seems to extend beyond those actively involved in far-right organizing.

The investigation found that most known neo-Nazis and white nationalists in the leaked customer information purchased a few albums on the site. During its investigation, Hatewatch also stumbled onto the name of a police officer in Racine, Wisconsin, who had no additional ties to the movement that Hatewatch could find beyond patronizing this prominent hate music distributor.

Hatewatch then dug deeper into the leak and identified the top 20 customers to the site, which revealed that most of Midgard’s top customers appear to have no apparent connections to hate groups, but they nonetheless spend more than $50-$75 per order several times per year. Midgard’s top customers that Hatewatch identified include an owner of a bakery in California, a U.S. Army vet in Florida, a program manager at a university extension program in New York, a member of the Knights of Columbus in Illinois and a former executive of a distribution company in Pennsylvania. Hatewatch is choosing to reveal the names only of customers who are associated with white power groups and customers whose jobs place them in positions of authority in their communities.

Asked about whether all fans of hate music embrace white supremacy, Peter Simi, professor of sociology at Chapman University and author of American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate, mentioned that even some Skrewdriver songs are subtle, and that of course someone could stumble into one of these songs and find their melodies catchy. “So, maybe there is something in the music of Skrewdriver that someone might find appealing irrespective of the lyrics and what the lyrics signify,” Simi said. “Now, given the explicit nature of so much of the lyrics, it is hard for me to imagine being able to enjoy [any] music without on some level feeling good about what the lyrics stand for in the messages, and what the underlying messages stand for.”

Antifascist activist collective AFA Stockholm published leaked customer information for Midgard in December 2023. First reported by VICE, the leak includes information on about 20,000 customers from late 2017 to mid-2022, as well as the items customers purchased on the hate music website and the dates of the purchases. Private customer information in the leak includes names, phone numbers, addresses and email addresses.

SPLC’s Data Lab compared customer data to breaches of similar stores and found overlap, then compared items in the leak to items as they appeared on Midgard’s website. Several social media accounts posted concerns that their data was included, and SPLC’s Data Lab connected many of these posts to orders within the data set. However, some orders may have been placed under a false name, like those placed under the name of deceased white nationalist Spaulding.

SPLC’s Data Lab then identified Midgard’s top U.S. customers and the most popular items purchased on the site. SPLC’s Data Lab also analyzed the customer data by state and created a timeline of purchases on the site.

‘Cult of the Holy War’

According to the AFA Stockholm statement announcing the leak, “Since the 1990s, Midgard has played a significant role in the Nazi movement in Sweden … and has actively participated in and financially supported several Nazi organizations as well as being present at internal events.”

Based in Sweden, Midgard has become known in the white power movement as a place to shop for hard-to-find racist albums. The word “Midgard,” in Germanic and Old Norse traditions, refers to the Earth or the known world, as opposed to mythical realms of the gods. Midgard the music distributor offers customers an array of hate music genres, as well as clothing, apparel and racist stickers. Midgard does not hide its neo-Nazi and white nationalist ties and prominently displays a racist “Keep it White” banner ad on its homepage, sandwiched between banner ads for European far-right groups.

A book that focuses on the legacy of Skrewdriver frontman Ian Stuart Donaldson is the top item purchased during the nearly five-year period covered in the leak. Purchased 44 times, the book provides an uncritical examination of Donaldson’s racist and antisemitic beliefs that he promoted through Skrewdriver. Donaldson formed the racist skinhead group Blood & Honour in Britain in 1987. In his music and politics, Donaldson amplified violent rhetoric and perceived he was engaged in a “struggle for the survival of European races,” according to Blood & Honour’s website. By the time Donaldson died in a car accident in 1993, he was reportedly using concerts to fundraise for European far-right groups, including the British National Party.

Five of the top ten items purchased on Midgard are either Skrewdriver records or books on the band, which highlights the continued influence of Donaldson for fans of hate music. The table below identifies the top 10 items purchased on the website found in the leaked data.

Midgard customers purchased an album from the band Rahowa titled Cult of the Holy War 43 times during the period covered in the leak. Rahowa, which stands for “racial holy war,” is a popular saying for adherents of the racist belief system known as Christian Identity. From Canada, Rahowa was part of Resistance Records – the record label acquired in 1999 by the neo-Nazi National Alliance. Hatewatch previously reported that by 2002 National Alliance was earning close to $1 million largely due to selling records through distributors like Midgard.

Using violence against political enemies, often framed in defensive terms, is a prevalent theme in the white power music scene. Violent racist and antisemitic imagery occurs throughout Rahowa’s lyrics. For example, the last track on the album, “Ode to a Dying People,” is awash in violent imagery and encourages listeners to replace their apathetic and suicidal thoughts with hope – the hope that white men will start to fight back against a perceived anti-white system.

Bands listed in the above table, including Rahowa and Skrewdriver, play music commonly referred to in the movement as Rock Against Communism (RAC). Despite its name, RAC is notable for its lack of references to communism and its focus on racist and antisemitic themes. Fans of RAC use the term as a euphemism to hide the bigoted themes of the genre.

Simi said in a phone call with Hatewatch that violence is an “accoutrement” to the larger racist skinhead movement. “[Violence] is part of their culture, and it is various aspects of that culture that are helping to produce and reinforce the idea that violence is acceptable, or there’s a desirable strategy that you can gain by engaging in violence.”

RAC is not the only type of hate music that Midgard sells. A look at the larger data leak shows Midgard customers purchasing music from a variety of genres including folk, rockabilly, metal and others.

“Groups can use music to appeal to people across a broader cross section. ... Music is obviously universal across human culture. And so it’s powerful in that respect. No matter who we’re talking about music seems to have an appeal to people at a base level, in many respects,” Simi explained.

Midgard customers tended to purchase racist music around the winter holidays. Figure 2 shows the total of purchases made per month on Midgard. Aside from customers seemingly doing their holiday shopping on the site, another spike in purchases occurred in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. As most Americans avoided public spaces, stayed home and cultivated skills or hobbies, Midgard customers appeared to turn to hate music to occupy their time.

Midgard customers are found in 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The only states without Midgard customers are Hawaii, Maine and South Carolina. Unsurprisingly, the map of Midgard customers shown in Figure 2 highlights areas in the U.S. that are bases of operation for hate music and racist skinhead groups, including the Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

Midgard’s second biggest U.S. customer

The leaked customer data reveals the names of many well-known associates of neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups who reflect the overlapping ideologies attracted to Hate Music. Midgard customers include Paul Alfich, the former national treasurer of the now defunct Volksfront; Forest Rankin, arrested alongside 30 white nationalist Patriot Front members outside a Pride event in Idaho in June 2022; and Mohammad “Mikhail” Wadaa, a co-founder of the neo-Nazi Clockwork Crew. The Guardian revealed that Wadaa helped to organize Clockwork Crew while serving as a lance corporal in the U.S. Marines, and he was then court martialed for violating a Marine Corps prohibition against advocating extremist ideologies.

The name of a well-known associate of the now-defunct neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) in Knoxville, Tennessee, Craig Spaulding, appears in the Midgard leak about five months after he reportedly died. For years, journalists and activists recorded Spaulding menacing anti-racist protests, LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces and attending racist speaking events on college campuses alongside the founder of TWP. Spaulding, who was present at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, accidentally shot himself April 8, 2021, according to news reports.

A Hatewatch investigation identified that the person using Spaulding’s name on Midgard was likely Aaron Price, 41, from Greeneville, Tennessee. According to data brokers, Wesley Aaron Price resides at an address in Greeneville found in the data leak. Price is the second biggest U.S. customer for the racist music site during the years covered in the data leak. He placed 35 separate orders with Midgard and purchased about 100 total items. The four orders using Spaulding’s name and address included Price’s contact information. In addition to these four orders, Price used his own name to ship 20 orders to Spaulding’s address. Two orders using the name of Spaulding’s widow also included Price’s contact information and were shipped to Spaulding’s last known address. The remaining 11 orders containing Price’s contact details were shipped to an address in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Hatewatch reached out to Price via email, but he did not respond. Phone numbers associated with Price found on data brokers were inactive.

According to the leaked customer data, Price first used Spaulding’s address Aug. 5, 2021, when he placed an order for a Skrewdriver record using the name of Spaulding’s widow. A few weeks prior to this purchase, Spaulding’s widow announced on July 23 on Facebook that she was in a relationship with Price.

It is unclear what role if any Price has in the far-right movement.

The police officer in Wisconsin

Hatewatch identified one name revealed in the Midgard data leak as a police officer in Racine, Wisconsin. Hatewatch received the employment records of the officer, Gregg Pellegrino, from the City of Racine through a FOIA request to verify his current employment.

Pellegrino shipped four albums to two separate addresses in Wisconsin. Property records show that Pellegrino sold and purchased a home in fall 2021, which corresponds to orders placed on Midgard. Hatewatch did not find any additional ties to the white power movement beyond Pellegrino’s hate music purchases.

Hatewatch reached Pellegrino by phone, but he refused to comment.

Hatewatch also connected the contact information Pellegrino provided to Midgard to data included in a breach of Police1, a website that provides news and resources to law enforcement. At the time of the Police1 breach, the website reportedly included an online forum for law enforcement. Pellegrino’s apparent username on Police1 at that time was Dirtyharry44, a nod to the movie police officer played by Clint Eastwood who needs to take the law into his own hands because his superiors are too soft on crime.

On Jan. 9, 2022, and Aug. 24, 2022, Pellegrino purchased three albums, including two from a Minnesota-based band called Bound for Glory, and shipped them to his new residence. Bound for Glory was signed to Panzerfaust Records, a record label affiliated with the racist skinhead group Hammerskin Nation. Panzerfaust Records was a popular hate music label in Minnesota until 2005, when it shut down amid infighting about the race of the owner. The owner claimed he was white, but his detractors claimed otherwise.

One Bound for Glory album that Pellegrino purchased includes a song titled “Musical Terrorists,” which includes coded references to Hitler and calls for “big white city boys” to “knock out” people who stand in their way.

‘Triumph of the Will’

The vast majority of the top 20 U.S. customers identified in the Midgard data leak appear to have no connections to U.S. hate groups. Instead, the individuals who purchased the most items on Midgard appear to work in professional environments or own businesses. One is a researcher and program manager at a university extension program.

A U.S. Army veteran in Florida who landed an acting role in a 2008 independent film about veterans suffering from PTSD appears as Midgard’s eighth biggest customer in the U.S. The vet placed 20 orders on Midgard and purchased 40 total items according to the data leak, including The Best of Panzerfaust Records and an album by New Zealand white power band Xenophobe titled Lords of Chaos that he appeared to have purchased Feb. 6, 2021. The album includes a tribute song to well-known Holocaust denier David Irving as well as a song that promotes the use of so-called “nailbombs” against perceived racial enemies.

Hatewatch reached the army vet by phone to ask him whether listening to hate music made it possible for him to perform his job without bias, as well as other questions related to the Midgard leak. He admitted to purchasing items from the website, but he claimed: “That doesn’t mean I’m racist. I like what I like, I can’t really explain it.” When asked about the violent nature of the music, he responded, “I can say the same thing about rap music.”

A former vice president of a distribution company in Pennsylvania is Midgard’s 19th biggest customer in the U.S. The company, which features a diverse workforce in promotional materials, provides services to 3,000 suppliers and 650 retailers along the East coast according to its website. Over the course of three years, a vice president of this company purchased 49 items in 12 orders to the site.

Reached by phone, the former executive told Hatewatch that he placed orders on Midgard and added: “Music is separate from the lyrics. For me, I can listen to things musically and disagree completely with the lyrics. ... I listen to rap music. I grew up on punk. I listen to metal. What I listen to doesn’t influence how I do my job.”

Asked about what drew him into the hate music scene, the former executive explained that he started going to punk shows in 1986 and considered himself a skinhead but not anymore. “The scene became too cliquish,” he said. “I’m proud of my heritage, but I don’t use my heritage and my color as anything more than that.”

The name of an agriculture program leader at a university extension campus in New York is Midgard’s 18th biggest customer in the U.S. According to his bio on the program's website, the program leader has expertise as a researcher and educator in “field crops, soil science, beef cattle/livestock and urban agriculture.” His bio also states that he develops programs and comes into close contact with “workers from diverse backgrounds [and] cultures.”

According to the data leak, the program leader made a total of 13 orders between September 2019 and November 2021, including an album by Battle Zone called Nowhere to Hide. Battle Zone is a hate music band that uses explicit racist and antisemitic slurs, as well as graphic depictions of violence against perceived racial enemies. The album art for Nowhere to Hide includes an image of a helicopter, which far right groups have co-opted to represent killing their political opponents. The Chilean fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet is believed to have murdered thousands of political opponents by throwing them out of helicopters.

Reached by phone, the program leader refused to speak on record, but he did confirm that he purchased music from Midgard out of a morbid curiosity and he regrets that decision.

Other top customers to the neo-Nazi music distributor include an owner of a bakery in California and a member of a Knights of Columbus chapter in Illinois. The bakery, which mainly sells dinner rolls and breads to restaurants in Southern California, makes a style of bread that is named after a racial slur used against Indigenous women. The owner of the company purchased nearly 100 items between Dec. 15, 2017, and July 7, 2022, in 26 separate orders, and was Midgard’s fifth biggest U.S. customer. He purchased eight Skrewdriver records in one large order placed July 17, 2021.

Hatewatch attempted to reach the baker by phone and email but did not receive a response.

A third-degree member of the Knights of Columbus (KoC) in Illinois is the 13th biggest U.S. customer for the neo-Nazi music distributor. Third-degree members of the Knights of Columbus earn the opportunity to serve on the local council and receive more information about the inner workings of the group, according to the group’s website. This Midgard customer is identified as an Outside Guard in the newsletter for the local chapter. He also appears to be an aspiring racist folk musician. Hatewatch traced his contact information to a music sharing site and found the music he produced is rife with violent and bigoted themes. In one song, titled “Skinhead Angel Girl,” he described the titular character as “Quite right and definitely white, all right.”

Hatewatch attempted to reach the KoC member by phone and email but did not receive a response.

Photo illustration by SPLC

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