Juggalo March on Washington: Insane Clown Posse fans to demand end to 'gang' designation

Demonstration organized by horrorcore band and its label seeks to highlight FBI’s 2011 classification of fans, which they say has prompted discrimination

Thousands of Juggalos will descend on Washington DC in September, in an attempt to change the FBI’s designation of fans of the band Insane Clown Posse as a “gang”.

The Juggalo March on Washington, organised by the horrorcore band Insane Clown Posse and their record label, Psychopathic Records, aims to draw attention to a years-old ruling by the FBI that Juggalos say has led to discrimination by police and employers.

In its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, the FBI referred to Juggalos – fans of Insane Clown Posse who often wear black and white clown-type face paint to demonstrate their allegiance and are named after the song The Juggla – as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang”.

“Although recognized as a gang in only four states,” the assessment said, “many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence. Law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo sub-sets, according to [National Gang Intelligence Center] reporting.”

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 before the US court of appeals for the sixth circuit. In the meantime, 3,000 Juggalos will march down the National Mall on Saturday 16 September before attending a concert in Virginia that evening.

“It’s about civil rights and what has been going on for the last seven years,” said Jason Webber, director of public relations at Psychopathic Records, adding that the gang designation “would just be ridiculous if it wasn’t having genuinely dire consequences for people”.

“It’s not really fair that Juggalos are considered a loosely organized hybrid gang and Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters are just considered harmless kids.”

In its 2011 report, the FBI said: “Many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.

“Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism.

“However, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.”

The ACLU and Insane Clown Posse say that designation has had negative consequences for Juggalos and other fans of the band. At the culmination of the September march, a number of Juggalos will share personal testimonies of how they have been profiled by police or otherwise suffered because of their allegiance.

A number have shared their stories on the Juggalo march website. One woman, Jessica B, who did not want to use her last name, claims she was fired from a job with the Virginia department of corrections because of her Juggalo affiliation. Jessica B posted a letter from her employer which appears to support the account.

“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,” said Desire Vincent, digital media strategist at ACLU of Michigan.

The case has been thrown out of court twice by a Michigan judge who said the Juggalos lacked “legal standing”. A ruling on the ACLU’s second appeal is expected to take at least six months.

While the Juggalos wait for that second ruling – if successful, they would have to present their original case in court – Webber said they had been offered some hope by the election of Donald Trump.

“I do know that President Trump really likes meeting and hobnobbing with celebrities,” he said. “Well, Insane Clown Posse are celebrities, so, you know, maybe he could invite them to the Oval Office and ICP can pour him a glass of Faygo [a soda popularized by Insane Clown Posse] and everyone can sit around and talk about it.

“In this modern political climate that we’re living in, I actually don’t think such an idea is totally impossible, to be honest with you.”

In April, Trump hosted the musicians Kid Rock and Ted Nugent at the White House. This week, Kid Rock said he planned to run for the US Senate in Michigan.

Insane Clown Posse will be playing a show, along with more than a dozen other musicians, in Bristow, Virginia – just outside DC – after the march. According to event organizers, Vanilla Ice is among those slated to perform, although Ice’s own website says he is playing in Penticton, Canada, that evening as part of an “I love the 90s” tour.

Neither the White House nor Vanilla Ice responded to requests for comment.

An FBI spokesperson said the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment was “comprised of information shared with the National Gang Intelligence Center and the FBI from law enforcement around the country”.

The spokesperson added: “The 2011 report specifically noted that the Juggalos had been recognized as a gang in only four states.”

Contributor

Adam Gabbatt

The GuardianTramp

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