A Detroit judge will begin a hearing today on a lawsuit brought forth by the band Insane Clown Posse (ICP), a lawsuit that the Justice Department wants thrown out. They say that ICP has no standing with their lawsuit, which concerns a 2011 FBI report that labels the band’s fans, called Juggalos, as a gang. ICP says the Juggalos are more like a family than a gang.
Insane Clown Posse, a horrorcore duo from Detroit, is made up of members Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. These are not their real names. They object to a 2011 FBI report which called the Jugallos a “hybrid gang.” ICP objects to this classification on the grounds of restricted free speech and due process of law. ICP is characterized by their identities as wicked clowns, performing in full clown make-up, though these clowns are scary. Their fans, the Juggalos, will also adopt clown identities, creating their own make-up faces and clown names. An example of a Juggalo name is Big Money Hustla. If a Juggalo has a girlfriend, she is a “Jugglette.” The lyrics in Insane Clown Posse songs all deal in horror imagery, specifically their Dark Carnival, a set of parables designed to turn listeners from their evil ways. Occasionally, ICP also wonders about how magnets work.
Juggalos have an annual music and lifestyle festival, called the “Gathering of the Juggalos.” At the festival, music acts are paired with different vendors that cater to the Juggalo culture, which includes drinking Faygo and wearing the bands clothing label HatchetGear. One of the interesting fixtures of The Gathering is the Drug Bridge, a bridge on the festival’s grounds where Juggalos can buy drugs. Notable performers at The Gathering include Charlie Sheen, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, The Fat Boys, and infamously, Tila Tequila. A video of Tequila at The Gathering showed Juggalos throwing bottles and rocks at her as she was booed off stage.
The National Gang Intelligence Center believes that at most 15 percent of Juggalos are engaged in criminal activity. Some of this activity includes arson on an Indian reservation, weapons trafficking, and murder. The Juggalos will often ally themselves with the Blood gang, though the NGIC does not know why this is necessary. Some law enforcement officials do not agree with this classification of the Juggalos as a gang. One law enforcement official characterized the Juggalos as more of a cult than a gang. Some officers compared the Juggalos to fans of the band Phish, saying that many of the complaints about Juggalos could also apply to that band’s fans, the only difference being that the fan’s of Phish are hippies instead of demonic-looking clowns.
The members of the Insane Clown Posse believe that by classifying the Juggalos as a gang, it opens them up to legal persecution and denies their rights to free speech. Stores that cater to the Juggalo lifestyle, like Hot Topic, have stopped selling the group’s clothing and albums in states that classify Juggalos as a gang. The Insane Clown Posse says that organized crime has nothing to do with their fans, and believes that the only purpose to the classification is to keep people away from concerts and events.
By Bryan Levy