Some people work two jobs to remain afloat. Others, like former Patterson Thuente lawyer Aaron W. Davis, worked a second job to spread neo-nazi hate.
Last week, a local newspaper exposed the dirty secret of an accomplished IP attorney in Minneapolis. During the day, Aaron W. Davis worked for intellectual property law firm Patterson Thuente. At night, Davis ran a small-time record label listed as an “active hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Once the news went viral, the law firm immediately fired Davis. But who was he? What discriminatory content did he reportedly spread?
Aiming to rid the city of discriminatory ideology in the wake of deadly neo-nazi protests in Charlottesville, an anonymous tipster told City Pages about Aaron Wayne Davis. He worked as a partner for Patterson Thuente. In fact, the law firm considered him an up-and-coming star in the legal world.
A successful lawyer by day
In his now-deleted profile page on Patterson Thuente’s website, the law firm proudly described Davis’ contribution.
“Aaron Davis is a key member of Patterson Thuente’s litigation team and also leads the firm’s arts and entertainment practice. Aaron’s practice focuses primarily on litigation of intellectual property disputes. He has assisted clients with disputes regarding patents, copyrights, trademarks, entertainment contracts, rights of publicity, trade secrets, trade dress and other business torts.”
At Patterson Thuente, Davis led several top intellectual property cases.
In 2015, Davis successfully defended Cardiac Science Corporation in Los Angeles Superior Court. A 12-person jury unanimously ruled in the company’s favor, awarding them $22,991,985 in unpaid royalties. Davis also defended medical device companies and furniture manufacturers. In a West Texas courtroom, defendants consented to a permanent injunction against selling infringing products. Davis also helped settle another patent infringement case for over $2 million.
According to the law firm, Davis had previously worked as a music promoter. He represented “more than a dozen record companies including many independent labels.” Davis had also worked as a treasurer at the Minnesota Music Academy. Acknowledging his side job in the music industry, the law firm wrote,
“He continues to assist select artists with transactional issues, such as negotiation of licensing, distribution, recording, and management deals. His clients include record labels, artists, and entertainment companies throughout the United States, as well as businesses of all types and sizes that desire protection for their business relationships and intellectual property assets.”
As a partner with Patterson Thuente, Aaron W. Davis also received several accolades. The National Law Journal included him in their Top 100 Verdicts of 2015. The Minnesota Lawyer considered him an “Up and Coming Attorney” in 2007. He was also voted a ‘Minnesota Rising Star’ between 2006 and 2007, and again from 2009 to 2013.
Yet, speaking to City Pages, the anonymous tipster pointed to Davis’ dark side in the music industry. He allegedly kept this from Patterson Thuente.
Leading the dark Aryan side of the music industry at night
Aaron W. Davis helped create the website for Behold Barbarity Records and Distro. He also ran the label.
City Pages found that Behold Barbarity represents several death metal artists and groups whose lyrics focus on white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Deathkey’s 2010 album Behead the Semite included tracks named ‘Kill the Jews’ and ‘At the Dawn of a New Aryan Empire.’
Behold Barbarity also represented the Raunchous Brothers. In one song, the group proudly sang,
“You’re of no use to me, you disgraceful f—ing dyke, so I’ll shove you in the oven like the glorious Third Reich.”
After investigating Davis’ record label, City Pages wrote,
“As the titles swim into focus, it becomes obvious that Behold Barbarity is a virtual vault of neo-Nazi tunes.”
On their website, Behold Barbarity claims to distribute music around the world, from Germany to Argentina.
The label’s representation of neo-Nazi artists and bands led the SPLC to label them an “active hate group.”
Exposing Davis’ neo-Nazi work
For several years, Aaron W. Davis organized Chicago’s annual Satanic music festival. Named ‘Cathedral of the Black Goat,’ he paired the concert with the Nazi-themed Night of the Long Knives festival. The name refers to the night when Hitler rose to power in 1934 through a killing spree in Germany.
In white supremacy and neo-Nazi blogs, metal heads who sympathized with the movements promoted the event. However, they only shared the information with those who they considered ‘worthy.’
At last year’s event, Finnish band Goatmoon made a notable appearance. The group’s lyrics include,
“The Third Reich rises once again. The time of nigger sympathies is over. Our legion marches strong.”
Greek band Der Sturmer also made an appearance. In one song, the group states,
“Feel our thunder, Jewish parasite. All your hopes are turned to ashes. How does it feel, ‘chosen’ scum, our weapons dripped in your filthy blood?”
Speaking about 2013’s Cathedral of the Black Goat, an unnamed podcaster described Davis’ vision.
“I have to believe in the people I’m doing work with and their intentions, and that their intentions are similar. They have that same dedication. They have that same long-term goal.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center had previously labeled Behold Barbarity a “rallying point for racists.” In a statement about the label’s notoriously violent artists and groups, SPLC director Heidi Beirich said,
“It’s just no surprise that we’ve seen everything from low-level common assault to murder. They come directly out of that scene.”
But does Davis see Behold Barbarity as a hate group? Not one bit. In a statement on the label’s website, Davis sees Behold Barbarity as a beacon of free speech, not racism.
“Behold Barbarity believes in the First Amendment and is against any and all censorship, weakness, or political correctness!”
A post by a user named Behold Barbarity on heavy metal forum Nuclear War Now Productions reads,
“I’m currently reading the Koran, which I doubt 99.999 percent of the liberal advocates for the acceptance of muslims ever have.
“In my experience, it is always best to know thy enemy, what he believes, and how he thinks. Then I will know how best to attack them. And I don’t just mean through music.”
The user’s avatar underscores how to “best attack them.”
“Beheading them or bludgeoning them with a severed pig’s head, but a bacon trap would work too.”
On Behold Barbarity’s website, City Pages found that users can find and purchase neo-Nazi themed apparel. The newspaper found shirts with Nazi imagery for sale along with others that read “No Lives Matter,” “Muslims are No Friends of Mine,” and “I Won’t Coexist.”
Patterson Thuente had no idea about Davis’ dark side
Within hours of the article’s publication, Patterson Thuente placed Aaron W. Davis on administrative leave.
In an official statement days later, the law firm distanced itself from their once-shining star. Patterson Thuente didn’t know that Davis sold records with hate-filled lyrics and offensive images.
“Aaron Davis is no longer employed by Patterson Thuente Pedersen, P.A. Prior to the story, no one in the firm had any inclination regarding the allegations in the article.”
Fighting back against hate-filled ideologies
Metal heads in Minneapolis see the rise of neo-Nazism in the city as a threat. They’ve previously tried shutting down Behold Barbarity without much success. Metal heads have waited inline to protest at Davis’ festivals. Hacktivists have attempted to damage the label’s online payment system. Behold Barbarity, however, continues to operate.
Yet, do metal heads believe that the government should take action against Davis’ label and other neo-Nazi groups? Probably not. Speaking with City Pages, Sunless guitarist Lucas Scott said,
“We’d prefer they didn’t exist. We would like these people to be more emotionally intelligent, to understand other cultures and essentially let everybody be.”
However, some have vowed to fight against hate groups that spread discriminatory ideology in the city. Metal fan Scott Warner told City Pages,
“No, I’m not willing to cede any territory to these ideas. I don’t want to see any one venue become a white power venue again. Not everyone remembers how hard everyone literally fought to get these f—–s out of town. I don’t want to see that happen again.”
Image by John Kittelsrud (CC by 2.0)