If you’re a verified, card-carrying fan of the Insane Clown Posse, then your upcoming trip to America might just be fraught with difficulties, as it emerges that the US government now considers Juggalos to be a gang.
If those words sounded like complete gibberish to you, then let’s back up for a second.
Back in 1994, the hardcore hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse began referring to their dedicated fans as ‘juggalos’, named for their song ‘The Juggla’, and the name quickly stuck. The large, sprawling community of Insane Clown Posse fans embraced the name, and before long, these fans had adopted their own lifestyle, mannerisms, style, and even a rather blasé approach to violence that can be attributed to the band and its music.
Over the years, Juggalos have managed to invade many facets of pop culture, with The Gathering Of The Juggalos, an annual concert festival for the community, attended by tens of thousands of fans annually. However, despite their large family-like connection, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation deemed the subculture to be a dangerous menace, going so far as to list them as a “gang” back in 2011.
This didn’t sit too well with Juggalos, and despite the FBI’s claim that they were a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” whose “gang-like criminal activity” was to be treated with caution, they decided to take this matter all the way to court to remove their gang status.
Sadly, as The Washington Post reports, Juggalos have now lost their fight, and are likely to be considered a gang for some time to come.
See, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the FBI’s classification of the group was not a “final agency” section, meaning that this phraseology was not legally binding and could not be challenged in court.
The court did note that the FBI’s listing of the group was effectively just ‘suggested reading’, and that “no government officials are required to consider or abide by the gang designation”. In theory, this means that anyone who identifies as a Juggalo should in no way suffer any detrimental treatment by US law agencies, but both Insane Clown Posse and its fans disagree.
As Rolling Stone notes, the group’s members, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, along with other Juggalos had filed an unsuccessful lawsuit back in 2014 that challenged the FBI, noting that “organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture”. Numerous Juggalos claimed that they had been denied numerous basic rights due to their association with the group, while others had claimed they were frequently targeted and assaulted by the police.
“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,” the lawsuit read. “Inevitably, some will do so while sporting the group’s logos or symbols. 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.”
At this stage, Juggalos seem almost powerless to remove this classification by the FBI, but Rolling Stone notes that their next move could be a trip to the US Supreme Court for what we can only assume would be a landmark case. Stay tuned.