Insane Clown Posse fans fight ‘gang’ label
Thousands of fans of the band Insane Clown Posse are to march on Washington in September in attempt to change the FBI’s designation of them as a gang.
The march, organised by the so-called “horrorcore” hip hop duo and their record label, Psychopathic Records, aims to draw attention to a ruling by the FBI six years ago that the fans, known as Juggalos, say has led to discrimination by police and employers.
The FBI’s 2011 national gang threat assessment said the Juggalos – who often wear black and white clown-type face paint – were a “loosely organised hybrid gang”.
Although the fans had been recognised as a gang in only four states and most crimes committed by Juggalos were sporadic, the assessment said many Juggalo subsets exhibited gang-like behaviour and engaged in criminal activity and violence. “Law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo subsets, according to [National Gang Intelligence Center] reporting,” it said.
A number of Juggalos, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan and Insane Clown Posse themselves, have attempted to overturn that description in the courts, but have twice had cases thrown out. The ACLU and Insane Clown Posse have an appeal pending but in the meantime, 3,000 Juggalos will march down the National Mall on 16 September before attending a concert in Virginia that evening.
The ACLU and Insane Clown Posse say that the gang designation has had negative consequences for Juggalos and other fans of the band.
One woman, Jessica B, claimed in testimony on the march website that she was fired by the Virginia department of corrections because of her Juggalo affiliation and posted a letter from her employer which appeared to support the account.
Jason Webber, the director of public relations at Psychopathic Records, said: “It’s about civil rights and what has been going on.” He added that the gang designation “would just be ridiculous if it wasn’t having genuinely dire consequences for people”.
Desire Vincent, the digital media strategist at the ACLU of Michigan, said: “We’re asking for the court to rule that the gang designation is unconstitutional, and to order the DoJ clarify that Juggalos are not a gang, both publicly and to local law enforcement agencies.”
A Michigan judge has previously said the Juggalos lacked legal standing. A ruling on the ACLU’s second appeal is expected to take at least six months.
An FBI spokesperson said the national gang threat assessment in question had been compiled using information shared with the National Gang Intelligence Center and the FBI from law enforcement around the US. “The 2011 report specifically noted that the Juggalos had been recognised as a gang in only four states.”
One of the duo’s fans – ‘Juggalos’. Affiliates have difficulty getting jobs