Insane Clown Posse sues FBI for labeling ‘Juggalo’ fans a gang

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Insane Clown Posse members Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J speak to CNN. (Credit: CNN)

LOS ANGELES — Insane Clown Posse and four fans are suing the FBI for designating the rap duo’s followers as gang members.

FBI analysts, using law enforcement and media reports of crimes committed by people wearing “Juggalo” tattoos and clothing, concluded in the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment that they are a “loosely organized hybrid gang.”

“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,” said the lawsuit filed in Detroit Wednesday. “Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture.”

The gang designation violates fans’ constitutional rights, including free speech, freedom of association and the right to due process, the complaint argues.

People with “Juggalo” tattoos and clothing have been illegally targeted by police and denied jobs because of the FBI’s gang designation, the complaint contends.

“Among the supporters of almost any group — whether it be a band, sports team, university, political organization or religion — there will be some people who violate the law. Inevitably, some will do so while sporting the group’s logos or symbols,” the filing said. “However, it is wrong to designate the entire group of supporters as a criminal gang based on the acts of a few. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here.”

The group has been battling with the FBI in court since 2012 for the release of any information the analysts used to make their determination. Most of the documents released were online news stories detailing robberies and violence in which “Juggalos” were suspects.

The Insane Clown Posse lawsuit claims that its followers identify with their songs, which “have hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life and the support that Juggalos give to one another.”

“Many people view Juggalos as nonconformists because of their musical tastes, their practice of painting their faces to look like clowns, and the distinctive Juggalo symbols — including the ‘hatchetman’ logo — that they often display on their clothing, jewelry, body art and bumper stickers,” the suit said. “Yet when Juggalos come together at concerts or their annual week-long gathering every summer, they know that they are in a community where all people are equal and where they will be accepted and respected for who they are.”

The wide distribution of the gang report to law enforcement agencies around the United States “has caused real harm to ordinary Juggalos from coast to coast.”

The four fans who joined the lawsuit — from Nevada, California, North Carolina and Iowa — include a truck company owner who said he was detained by a state trooper in Tennessee because he was driving a truck with a “Juggalo” symbol on its side.

Another man has been repeatedly stopped and questioned by California police because of his visible “Juggalo” tattoos, the suit said.

A third fan was told by an Army recruiter that he could not join the military because of his “Juggalo” tattoo, it said. He was denied entry into the Army even after they were removed, the lawsuit said.

The fourth plaintiff is an active-duty soldier with “Juggalo” tattoos. The gang designation “places him in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge from the Army,” the lawsuit said.

A Royal Oak, Michigan, theater canceled an Insane Clown Posse concert — known as “Hallowicked” — at the request of police, the suit said.

The U.S. Justice Department has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said.

“We’re aware of the lawsuit,” said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle. “We’ll decline to comment.”

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7 comments

  • J

    From personal experience, the “Juggalos” I know are way too pathetic to be related to any sort of criminal activity. The few I know are more interested in comic books, video games, and smoking weed than engaging in any sort of organized criminal behavior.

  • ICP is weak

    ICP is LAME!

    Juggalos are just aging into overgrown children with no common sense, morals, work ethics…. It’s a philosophy!

    And for crying out loud that’s a MEAT CLEAVER not a HATCHET

    and a very poor choice of weapon to boot if you meet an adversary who doesn’t cower and fights back…. It’s not scary. Its silly and ignorant.

  • JuggaloJewell

    Tho times have changed and I have grown, Psychopathic Records was a huge part of my adolescence. Yes, I’m a Juggalo. Being a juggalo is supposed to be a way of life, a family… not a gang. WHOOP WHOOP! MCL

  • nobody

    I know juggalos that are late 20s early 30s dont work live off people cant keep a job on drugs gang know modern day bumbs.

  • SweetSykoticShyr

    Most of the world will never understand Juggalos. They are all the people who bred the hatred & ignorance which created us in the first place. Yeah, we are different & unique creatures but we were all born from some form of suffering. A lot of us have been neglected & abused by the people who are meant to be our caregivers. When you have landed amidst a terrible battlefield & your own blood is poisoning you, how can you not expect us to seek out shelter & reach out to others in need of true comfort instead of more torment? Juggalos are more true to each other even than the blood that punished us with no other reasons than being inefficient caretakers. That’s what real family is about. We live for each other & we allow the lyrics to bleed you out so we won’t catch any charges & in the end & the true family of Juggalos are decent individuals. It’s just sad a lot of misguided Juggalos which have made some unrighteous decisions that have made people slander the family. We don’t care about those of you that hate us because you are afraid of what you do not understand. We feel empathy for you because you will never know the true family that exists within us and our support for each other. Don’t let the rest of the world define who you are. Be true to yourself, give others the love they deserve, and no worries about the haters… They are the ones who will be judged in the end for their own malevolence. MMFWCL!¡!¡ <3

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