The "horrorcore" rap group Insane Clown Posse filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department today for the “unwarranted and unlawful decision” to label the Juggalos a "loosely-affiliated hybrid gang" back in 2011. That moniker has meant unfair police treatment and “significant harm” to the Posse's many fans, according to the complaint, filed with help from the ACLU.
Conflating Juggalos with gangs is absurd, preposterous, and any other synonym for insane, the Posse explains. "Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture," the complaint reads. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (legally, Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler) say they are neither engaged in organized violence nor mass scale dope dealing, even though their fans — as evidenced by their massive annual festival known as "The Gathering of the Juggalos" — are quite organized. But mostly harmless.
The Insane Clown Posse has been mulling a suit against the FBI for some time, and gathered evidence of what the group alleges is unfair treatment directed at their fans. Four Juggalos joined in the suit to tell personal stories of mistreatment. One of those suing said he has been consistently stopped by police for wearing a necklace of a man with a hatchet (right), a symbol of the Insane Clown Posse. Another fan claims that the Army told him he had to get rid of his Juggalo tattoos before he could join because they were gang-related.
The FBI's evidence against the Juggalos as a violent gang is indeed thin, as the FBI's report on the group cites only a few sporadic, unlinked criminal cases among the vast throng of ICP fans. “[I]t is wrong to designate the entire group of supporters as a criminal gang based on the acts of a few," the complaint reads. "Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.