Are Juggalos A Gang? The FBI Considered Them One & They've Been Fighting It For Years
Fans of the hardcore hip-hop (also known as horrorcore) duo Insane Clown Posse, Juggalos, descended upon Washington, D.C. on Saturday in protest of an issue unique to their community. As one of the three major protests that day, they swarmed the National Mall to protest the FBI's classification of Juggalos as a "hybrid gang" from their annual National Gang Threat Assessment in 2011.
The FBI labeled Juggalos a "loosely organized hybrid gang" because of crimes committed by people who claim to be members of the group, who are known for wearing the clown-like makeup that the Insane Clown Posse duo dons. (The band and its followers are known for painting their faces and wearing the band's symbol, an image of a man running carrying a hatchet.) The report said, “most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft and vandalism.”
The Insane Clown Posse and its following are publicly opposed to the labeling. In 2014, four fans sued the FBI over the classification, claiming in their lawsuit that: “Juggalos are a ‘family’ of people who love and help one another, enjoy one another’s company, and bond over the music and a philosophy of life. Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture.”
The group's website also claimed as a result of the FBI's classification, "hundreds if not thousands" of their fans experienced discrimination and harassment.
Efforts to sue the FBI failed in court when a judge dismissed their lawsuit in 2014, which was filed alongside the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan. Fans of Insane Clown Posse and the ACLU argued the FBI was infringing on their right to free speech by classifying them as a gang. Juggalos includes some criminal activity, but that it is unfair to single out followers of the Insane Clown Posse.
"(Like) other musical fan bases, the vast majority of Juggalos have nothing to do with criminal activity," a recent legal brief said, "let alone organized crime."
Fans of the band continue to appeal the judge's 2014 decision in the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati. Though the Juggalos were included in the FBI's 2011 report, in subsequent years, the group has been entirely dropped from the report, according to Detroit Free Press. Members of the Juggalos still say, however, that the FBI's classification caused a negative reputation and subsequent discrimination.
"Over the past five years, our legal team has heard testimonies and reports from Juggalos all over the nation who have lost custody of their children, been fired from jobs, denied access into the armed forces, and the most common consequence — being officially labeled as a gang member by law enforcement agencies for wearing Juggalo related clothing or brandishing one or more Juggalo tattoos," the group's website reads. "A simple traffic stop for a broken tail light can — and has — resulted in an otherwise law-abiding, hard-working, taxpaying citizen being put on a local or state list of gang members simply for displaying their Juggalo pride."
Insane Clown Posse with be performing at the Lincoln Monument at 9 p.m. Saturday night. The Detroit-based band consists of two members, Joseph Bruce, who goes by Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, Shaggy 2 Dope. The band sold 8 million copies of its most recent album.
Their latest protest in Washington D.C. is being held with the goal of bringing attention to what followers believe is an unjustified classification. There will be performances and stations for face painting all day Saturday. At least 3,000 people are expected to be in attendance on Saturday.
At the same time, a conservative pro-Trump rally is being held on the National Mall. The "Mother of All Rallies" took place Saturday at 11 a.m. outside the Washington Monument.