The tidy Cherry Hill bungalow blends in with others on the tree-lined street, with small American flags lining the walkway, a basket of orange flowers hanging from the eaves and a vegetable garden in the side yard.

There isn't a Nazi flag swaying from the porch.

There isn't a bumper sticker bearing the phrase "Have Pride?" on the car in the driveway.

There isn't a barrage of white-power rock music pouring through the windows.

Yet the man who lives here sells those products worldwide.

Steven Wiegand, owner of Micetrap Distribution, is among the largest purveyors of white-supremacist merchandise and music in the country. Over more than two decades, while keeping a mostly quiet profile in South Jersey, the 45-year-old Wiegand has built a full-time business and carved a solid spot in an industry that feeds and profits from the proliferation of hate.

When white supremacists converged in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, waving Confederate flags and chanting Nazi slogans, it was a forceful public display of a subculture that has long been served by Wiegand's website.

"He has been willing to sell some of the most hard-core, violent, and racist music in the entire industry," said Devin Burghart, vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and an expert on the white-power music industry. "There are a lot of things other folks won't touch because it is so violent and so over the top. He's fully embraced that."

Though the Southern Poverty Law Center lists his company as a hate group and once identified him among 40 "leaders of the radical right" to watch, Wiegand says he isn't a white supremacist. In a brief interview Wednesday, he said he sells products that cater to that community because he believes in the right to free speech and because he's a businessman.

And how is business these days?

"Very good," he said.

Steven Wiegand, owner of Micetrap Distributions, talks to an Inquirer reporter at his Cherry Hill home. Micetrap Distributions is among the largest purveyors of white-supremacist merchandise and music in the country.
Yong Kim
Steven Wiegand, owner of Micetrap Distributions, talks to an Inquirer reporter at his Cherry Hill home. Micetrap Distributions is among the largest purveyors of white-supremacist merchandise and music in the country.

Wiegand's offerings in the world of white supremacy are diverse.

His internet radio station streams hate music round the clock, along with links to buy many of the songs. His record label launches new musicians, soliciting demos to a Maple Shade P.O. Box. His small auction page offers rare finds, including a set of five Adolf Hitler action figures with a starting bid of $2,000. His online store lists key chains, patches, flags, magnets, shot glasses, bottle openers, and T-shirts bearing every image and idol of white supremacist culture.

Among the items in his store: Confederate and Nazi flags, a Trump for President 2016 banner, a button bearing the image of a lynching and the phrase "Good Night Black Pride," and a vinyl record titled "Ethnic Cleansing: Hitler was Right (More Dead Jews)."

The music at the heart of Wiegand's business, known broadly as hate rock, has its own American roots, like artist Johnny Rebel, who layered pro-KKK lyrics over country music in the 1960s. But most of the subculture emerged from the skinhead scene of 1970s Britain.

In the United States, the industry grew, and sub-sects emerged. The aggressive tempo and eardrum-splitting volume of hard-core punk (plus racist lyrics) became hatecore punk. The distorted guitars and shrieking vocals of black metal (plus racist lyrics) became National Socialist Black Metal.

The industry saw its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but hate music today remains a large part of white-supremacist culture.

Those musicians reach their audience, a small one compared with mainstream genres, on websites like Wiegand's. Traditional music distribution channels often shut them out. On Wednesday, Spotify removed several white-supremacist musicians from its playlist after a reporter posted about finding the music on its site. iTunes made a similar move in 2014.

Wiegand doesn't specialize in any particular kind of  hate music, but the CDs among his catalog include old school British Oi bands such as Skrewdriver and American rock groups such as Definite Hate, which gained national attention when its guitarist in 2012 opened fire in a Wisconsin Sikh temple, killing six people.

Many song titles in the genre are not overtly racist, with the message more subtly coming through in the lyrics. Other songs have a clear, hate-filled message. For example the track "Gays Have Gotta Go" from a 1996 Midtown Bootboys album begins, "Americans today should take a stand. Kick AIDS-spreading faggots out of our land. Diseased, dirty, perverted scum. Get them out of my land, they make me sick."

The album is among Micetrap's best sellers.

"For listeners, white power music is not simply entertainment. It is music with a message, a medium used to express an ideology suffused with anger, hatred and violence," the Anti Defamation League wrote in a 2012 report on the industry.

Wiegand entered the scene in the mid-1990s. In 2001, his company received a boost: the backing of David Lane, a member of the terrorist group The Order and a star within the white-power movement.

At that time, Lane was serving a 190-year sentence for his role in the murder of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio host from Denver. He continued to write and recruit from behind bars, coining what is now the most embraced slogan of white supremacy in the United States: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

In 2001, Lane's wife said she was struggling to keep afloat the family's publishing company, 14 Word Press, named after the number of words in the white-supremacist slogan. She said she was selling it to Wiegand, whom she called a "personal friend and supporter for many years."

The acquisition, which Burghart said lent credibility to Micetrap, soon proved troublesome for Wiegand, whose bosses at the Maple Shade Texaco gas station where he worked didn't know much about his side job.

After news articles about his taking over 14 Word Press surfaced, Texaco dug deeper and fired Wiegand for violating its employee handbook, which said employees were to "value and respect all people."

Wiegand sued, claiming in federal court that the company had violated his constitutional right to free speech. The judge sided with Texaco, saying the gas station had a "very strong interest" in regulating his speech to "ensure that it personified their values and respect for all."

Screen capture of the website Torch Antifa, which shows an image that the site says is of Steven Wiegand at the Holocaust Memorial in Cherry Hill.
Screen Capture
Screen capture of the website Torch Antifa, which shows an image that the site says is of Steven Wiegand at the Holocaust Memorial in Cherry Hill.

Since then, Wiegand has stayed on the radar of those who track white supremacists nationally but garnered little attention locally. He occasionally is targeted by Philadelphia's antifascist coalition, but Wiegand said Wednesday that he's never had problems with anyone in his quiet Cherry Hill neighborhood.

Short and heavy built, with a casual demeanor and a habit of jumbling his words, Wiegand first declined to talk about his business, but then, with little convincing needed, came to its defense. "The business is a business," he said. "It's no different than if I worked at Walmart."

He said that although he is not a white supremacist, he was a casual fan of white nationalist music in his early 20s. He started working on websites for bands in the industry and often received free CDs in return. He said he started selling them and only focused on the work full time after he was fired from the gas station.

(He also distanced himself from the ideologies in court, though the judge noted an irony, writing that Wiegand, in testimony, often referred to "our movement" but said he did not know what movement he was referring to.)

Those who track extremism don't believe Wiegand when he says he is not an extremist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, when it listed Wiegand as a leader of the radical right, said Wiegand had once explained that his racism stemmed from growing up near Philadelphia, what he called "one of the worst ghettos in the state." The group said Wiegand had expressed specific hatred for Jews.

Wiegand on Wednesday said the information was made up. He stressed that he is not a member of any white-supremacist organizations.

Independence has been a strength of his business.

Two distributors that were larger than Micetrap in the late 1990s and early 2000s disbanded amid internal disputes or scandals. Experts say only a handful of players are left, Micetrap being among the largest.

"He's been close to lots of different white-power organizations but never officially been, for any significant time, a member," Burghart said. "That slight degree of independence has allowed him to avoid a lot of the internal strife that often befalls white-power skinhead organizations."

While it is hard to measure Micetrap's audience, experts say he likely has a sizable distribution both within the United States and overseas, as the materials he sells are banned in many European countries.

"He's computer savvy, so he knows how to reach out to a broader audience," said a senior researcher who monitors extremism for the Anti-Defamation League and who asked to not be named, given the nature of his work. "He doesn't just confine himself to micetrap.net."

In fact, Wiegand owns several other sites, including whitepride.com and whitealliance.net, in some cases holding the domain name but not actively using the site. When it comes to Micetrap's site, he took steps to maintain his privacy, registering it through a Florida company that specializes in keeping domain information cloaked.

He also appears to be associated with another company, Foul Mouth Shirts, for which there is a link on Micetrap's homepage. The shirts promote, among other things, the Holocaust, rape, and violence against the police.

Wiegand disputes the suggestion that his business might play any role in the growth of white supremacy. He said his website draws buyers who already espouse those ideals, not those who show just a casual curiosity in the movement.

As for the clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Wiegand said he agreed with President Trump's assessment that there had been a small group of violent protesters on each side. He said he wasn't "happy with what's going on." "How can anyone be happy about that?" he asked. But he said he felt no personal connection to the events.

"I don't think the merchandise ties into violence," he said.

A few moments later, though, he acknowledged the violence does tie into sales.

"The past few weeks, with all the violence, more people are searching it out," he said.

Wiegand declined to say how much he makes annually but said that along with the spikes in sales he sees any time white supremacists make major headlines, business has been on a steady rise for about four years.

Burghart said he doubts that will turn south any time soon.

"Hate is his business," he said. "And business is good."

Hate Groups in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

The Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes 40 hate groups in Pennsylvania, and 15 in New Jersey. Fifty-two percent of these groups affiliate with white nationalist, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, or Ku Klux Klan philosophies.  Twenty-nine percent of the groups affiliate with black separatist ideologies. The remainder hold issue specific beliefs, such as Holocaust denial or anti-LGBT rights.
SOURCE: Southern Poverty Law Center
Staff Graphic