2017 has been a bit of a crazy year for Washington D.C., with what seems like some form of mass demonstration every week. The Women's March, the repeated rallies and acts of civil disobedience supporting the Affordable Care Act, and even something involving people in dinosaur costumes that I saw on Twitter and have decided that I do not need to know more about. But in addition to the seemingly endless protests against the Trump administration comes a political movement that might surprise you: the Juggalo March on Washington.
In case you don't know (I can't tell if I envy or pity that), there's a strange rap-rock duo called Insane Clown Posse, featuring Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, who hail from Detroit, Michigan, ask the hard questions about magnets, and wear clown makeup. Their fans call themselves Juggalos, and also wear clown makeup. Ever since 2000, the Juggalos have held an annual festival, called the Gathering of the Juggalos, growing from around 7,000 attendees that first year, to over 20,000 in 2010, featuring yells of "Whoop whoop!", the niche soda Faygo, and general debauchery. If you want to read more about them, there are actually academic studies written about the subculture, because America is weird.
In 2011, the FBI listed the Juggalos as a gang, despite them being generally more kooky than violent. This matters because it could mean that individual Juggalos, having done nothing themselves beyond being enthusiastic fans of the music and perhaps wearing some weird makeup, could be subject to law enforcement monitoring. A 2012 concert was shut down by the police because of the gang classification. The Juggalos sued. In 2014, they joined with the ACLU of Michigan in suing the FBI again, hoping to have the gang classification ended and any records on the group's activities destroyed.
Juggalos are a frequently ridiculed group (I mean, I've been making fun of them plenty here), but civil libertarians have rallied to their cause, arguing that the FBI's treatment of them is unfair for a group that mostly includes peaceful music fans. Brandon Badley, a Juggalo in California, told The New York Times in 2014, in reference to the lawsuit, that Juggalos were "being discriminated against, just because of the music we listen to.”
Violent J, one of the two members of ICP, said in a news conference:
We’re not a gang, we’re a family. We’re a diverse group of men and women, united by our love of music and nothing more. We’re not a threat, a public menace or a danger to society.
In the midst of their lawsuit, which has plodded through the courts as civil rights cases do, the Juggalos planned a massive march in Washington on Saturday to protest the gang classification. The aim of the march is to peacefully display the wide range of people caught up in the gang classification. And unlike other marches in D.C. these days, they don't intend to direct their protest at the president.
However, something else is happening on Sept. 16. That same day, the Mother of All Rallies, a coalition of numerous pro-Trump and far-right groups, will also be descending on the nation's capital. After the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, some became worried that violence may break out (though the MOAR website explicitly denounces racism or violence in connection to the rally). There's also the possibility that Antifa, the far-left group that aims to shut down any instances of white supremacist or fascist ideology, will show up, raising tensions.
Some 2,500 people have registered that they will be attending the Juggalo March, which is set to begin at the Lincoln Memorial at noon on Saturday. We can only guess what might happen once they do. Whoop whoop!