Fans of the Detroit-based hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse — known as juggalos — gathered Saturday on the National Mall Saturday to protest the FBI’s 2011 labeling of the group’s fans and its recording label, Psychopathic Records, as “a loosely-organized hybrid gang.”
The eight-hour long event, which follows a years-long battle between the juggalos and the Department of Justice, went off largely without incident on the same day that a group of Donald Trump supporters rallied nearby.
Tensions between Insane Clown Posse supporters and federal law enforcement date back to 2011, when the multi-agency National Gang Intelligence Center first designated juggalos as a gang. While the FBI no longer includes them in the National Gang Threat Assessment, lawyers for juggalos claim that they continue to face problems as a result of the original 2011 designation.
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In a written statement given to POLITICO, the FBI acknowledged that juggalos had been recognized as a gang in just four states, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Utah.
The FBI also noted that the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment was comprised of data that was shared with the Bureau and stated that the FBI investigates ‘activity which may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security. The FBI cannot initiate an investigation based on an individual’s exercise of their First Amendment rights.”
Farris Haddad, a lawyer for the Insane Clown Posse and a juggalo since the age of 12, says the damage has already been done despite the FBI delisting. “Obviously they are not listed in the report anymore but there is no list anymore in the report either,” said Haddad, who said he believes juggalos are listed in some private databases.
He insists juggalos are not a gang. “It really is a mistake, there is no initiation to become a juggalo, there is no territories, either you’re a fan or you’re not,” he said.
Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan — which filed suit with the band’s frontmen Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope on behalf of juggalos in 2014 — said in an interview with POLITICO that some fans have been afraid to attend the “Gathering of The Juggalos,” an annual event for fans, “because they might be designated as a gang member.”
One long-time fan, Roxxie Red, said her juggalo tattoos landed her in hot water after a routine non-visit with her parole officer for an unrelated non-violent offense. During a follow-up visit she says she was sent with the gang task force in the Virginia Department of Corrections, labeled as a “juggalette,” and was forced to sign a document which prevented her from associating with other juggalos, according to the document shared with POLITICO.
In addition, she says, she was banned from visiting any school grounds and told to delete her Facebook account.