BALTIMORE — Label 56, a white-power record label run out of a Southwest Baltimore townhouse, is not welcoming to outsiders.
Off Interstate 95 in Morrell Park, a poor, mostly white quarter of majority-black Baltimore, the home is guarded by three pit bulls that sit peacefully in the living room but howl when a stranger approaches.
In the wake of August's attacks in Charlottesville, where a white nationalist allegedly drove into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring many others, some record labels deemed racist were temporarily shut down or otherwise shamed. One label on Long Island was kicked off PayPal. One in New Jersey was shut down after it was outed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. A Minneapolis lawyer who ran a neo-Nazi label was fired from his law firm.
But Label 56, run by Clemie Richard Haught Jr., is still in business in this city about 35 miles from the nation's capital. It's the only white-power label in the Washington region on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active hate groups, and it continues to thrive in an environment where others have faced obstacles.
The label surfaced in mainstream media in 2012, when a guitarist for a band that released songs with Haught killed six people at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. The label surfaced again this year when a Maryland Veterans of Foreign Wars Post learned it was renting its hall to white supremacists connected to Haught.
While some labels were silenced, at Label 56, the music plays on.
Devin Burghart, vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that fights white nationalism, said it is hard to gauge the size of the white power music business. Such groups operate in the shadows, and some are linked to gang activity.
But Label 56, which keeps a low profile and shuns media attention, is poised to get stronger, Burghart said.
He said the music label has maintained connections with white power crews that operate in the area, such as the Maryland Skinheads, without making a formal affiliation with them. Label 56 also has shied away from conflicts with these groups that could be damaging to its business while maintaining a satisfied customer base that existed long before violence in Charlottesville, Burghart said.
"The organization's catalog continues to expand," he said in an email. "They become one of the bigger players. They're sponsoring shows. They're building international ties, as well as ties to lots of local white power skinhead groups. They're targeting antifa."
Haught declined to comment on his label, saying in a Facebook message: "Don't take it personally, we don't do any media requests."
Public records show Haught has run Label 56 since 2005. Today, the label serves as a distributor of music and clothing, some of it right-wing, some of it explicitly racist.
The label's offerings include Confederate flags and "Rock Against Communism" patches, a recording of a speech by William Pierce — the white supremacist author of "The Turner Diaries" — and music by Bound for Glory, perhaps the best-known of the active white-power bands, as well as by other artists who embrace anti-Semitism.
Label 56 also hosts a blog on its website that offers takes on the news. A recent post lamented that "pro-European" musicians were being censored online, while another took on the National Football League for its criticism of President Trump.
The record label's Facebook page and Twitter feed remain active, often taking up racially charged causes. After the Charlottesville attack, one blog post blamed antifa — an anti-fascist protest movement — and Charlottesville's mayor for the violence.
"The message has been distorted by the mass media, essentially calling everyone in attendance a Nazi," the Aug. 14 post read. "While nearly all of the participants were indeed Caucasian, there should be no argument that they should have the same respect as any another group that has a focus on Identity Politics. Unfortunately, the age of political correctness and social justice says that it's wrong to have an identity that isn't minority or immigrant."
Intermittently, Label 56 also hosts an Internet radio show that promotes its releases and music by like-minded artists. One of those musicians on the label is Jason Augustus, who spoke on the condition that his stage name be used for fear of retaliation over his views.
Augustus, 32, of Paoli, Ind., has a studio at his trailer, recording all instruments on his records himself. He also says he is a "national socialist."
"We are rapidly becoming a despised minority," he said of white people in a telephone interview. "It's cool to hate white people these days."
Augustus grew up in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, a "very Puerto Rican area," he said. "As a kid, I just got my [butt] kicked constantly."
He played in "the only national socialist band in New York City" and performed at "Hammerfest," an annual neo-Nazi festival. He eventually started a solo project: 14 Sacred Words. The name alludes to a well-known white supremacist slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."
After being contacted by Label 56 last year, Augustus started releasing music with Haught. Despite the business relationship, Augustus said he has not met Haught.
"I'm guessing these people actually have on-the-books jobs — they don't want to lose them," he said. "They want to hold on to whatever anonymity they can. . . . They don't just want to leave their entire life behind and yell about Jews all day."
Though organized at a distance, Augustus's release on Label 56 showcases the connection between domestic labels and white-supremacist labels that operate in Europe, where the white-power scene is bigger but can run afoul of speech laws.
"America is the only country that still has next-to-zero restrictions on freedom of speech," said the host of a recent Label 56 podcast. "Throughout Europe, however, it doesn't exist."
Augustus, who was banned from iTunes and Amazon, has struggled with such laws. The lyrics to his song "The Devil Wears Our Face" include a Holocaust reference: "The answer is right behind the six-pointed star/6 million lies deafen us to who we are."
While Label 56 released an uncensored version of the song in the United States, the European version, released by the German label One People One Struggle, removed the word "six" to make the reference to death camps less obvious. (One People One Struggle declined to comment.)
Burghart said groups promoting white-nationalist music are "burrowing online" as they are pushed offline, but that doesn't mean they're doomed. They face no criminal or civil sanctions, he said, and there is an audience, however marginal, for their products.
"Hate is their business," he said, "and business is good."