In­sane Clown Posse fans fight ‘gang’ la­bel

The Guardian - - INTERNATIONAL - Adam Gab­batt

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

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