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©Island Records/ Insane Clown Posse
© Island Records/ Insane Clown Posse
Insane Clown Posse Sue FBI Over Juggalos' Gang Classification

Rolling Stone

Horrorcore-rap duo Insane Clown Posse, along with four fans, are suing the Department of Justice and the FBI, demanding that the agencies purge the fan name "Juggalos" from their list of gang members. "Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture," reads the complaint, filed this morning in federal court in Detroit.

Also from Rolling Stone: Check out photos from the 2013 Gathering of the Juggalos

The suit stems from the FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center classification of Juggalos as "a loosely-organized hybrid gang," one with multiple affiliations. Lawyers for ICP and the ACLU claim that the profiling of Juggalos — based on their distinctive clown makeup and Hatchetman tattoos — lacks reasonable suspicion of gang affiliation. As a result, the "unconstitutionally vague" designation has since intimidated many from expressing themselves and denied them protection from unreasonable searches, according to the filing.

"The FBI had the impact they wanted: they scared people away from attending concerts and from affiliating together for the purpose of listening to music," Saura Sahu, an attorney assisting the ACLU of Michigan, tells Rolling Stone. He cited the decline in turnout at the latest Gathering of the Juggalos, ICP's annual five-day festival, where police last August arrested numerous people on drug-related offenses outside the event.

"We don't fit in anywhere," Insane Clown Posse's Violent J tells Rolling Stone. "And when people don't understand you, people fear you. All we're trying to do is be like the Stephen King of music. We like to tell horror stories."

The band's legal preparation began last year, when their attorney Howard Hertz contacted the ACLU about representing the four Juggalos. The suit follows ICP's 2012 complaint alleging that the FBI had violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to disclose adequate documentation justifying its gang classification, which is currently still pending. "None of the information revealed showed any significant link between any significant percentage of the Juggalos and the kind of criminal behaviors that the Department of Justice is supposed to be targeting through these gang initiatives," Sahu says.

Yet last July, according to the complaint, a plaintiff who drives a semi-truck sporting a Hatchetman logo was stopped, searched and detained by a Tennessee state trooper. In 2012, an Army recruiter refused to enlist a different plaintiff unless he covered or removed his Hatchetman tattoo. And plaintiff Robert Hellin, an Army corporal who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea, is "in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge" because of the tattoos he got years before Juggalos were deemed a gang.

"At first I thought, wow, that's a compliment that our fans are that heard-of and that renowned," Violent J says. "Then when I realized what's happening to the fans because of it, then everything turned around."

Federal law defines a criminal street gang as a group of at least five people engaging in violence or a drug-related crime. Yet while the DOJ's National Gang Threat Assessment warned that Juggalos were "rapidly expanding," three years ago, they said they "are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang," given their "disorganization" and "transient nature." They are active in at least 21 states, the assessment continued, though only four states recognize them as a gang. The report does not specify how many Juggalos make up the country's 1.4 million gang members.

The defendants have until March to either respond to the complaint or request that a judge dismiss the case. "We don't know if we can beat the FBI," Violent J says. "But we're damn sure not gonna sit there and accept it."

More from Rolling Stone
Q&A: Insane Clown Posse's Juggalos and Phish Fans Explored in New Book 
Insane Clown Posse Signs Up Charlie Sheen for Gathering of the Juggalos
In Photos: Insane Clown Posse Fire Up the 2012 Gathering of the Juggalos
Rolling Stone’s List of the 20 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2013

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Jan 9, 2014 11:49PM
I just don't know what to say about some of the comments made here.  This isn't about people not liking them because they are different, or because of the music they listen to. It's because of their actions.  There are some becoming violent, and just plain vulgar.   I'm still on the fence about this. Labeling all of them as gang members just doesn't seem right for the actions of a few, but at the same time, they have had their fair share of crimes. Mostly murder, necrophilia, and hate crimes. Feel free to Google. It's all there for the viewing.  I'm sure there of some of you who will obstinately defend them because those are only a dozen or so cases. But ask yourself this, how many more cases like those until you would feel comfortable labeling them as a gang?  If you're going to  comment, at least answer that last question first.
Jan 9, 2014 3:11PM

This is where our taxes go, it gives the Men in Black something to do. You know, instead if fighting real crime.

Now they're cracking down on Phish Fans, What is going on! Pretty soon they'll be feeding us Soma and telling us what to do... 

Jan 9, 2014 3:04PM
Jan 9, 2014 1:22PM

Insane Clown Posse and 4 of their fans sue - they shouldn't put all 4 of their fans in the same place at the same time, if there's an accident their whole following will be wiped out.


Insane Clown Posse - Really? Seriously? The whole makeup thing came and went in the 70's with Kiss. It was stupid then and even more stupid now, because unlike Kiss, these "jokers" (sic) have no musical talent. I caught 5 minutes of a movie on cable one time and these guys were in it, that was 5 minutes too long, they have no acting talent either.


Gangsta wanna be's, but they're white so they wear makeup. The only insane thing is that anyone would pay money for anything having to do with these clowns

Jan 9, 2014 12:42PM
Good for them. Their fans may be weird, and the music iffy, but calling a group of people who all enjoy a band, a gang, is ridiculous, and dangerous. It gives the government justification for intimidation or even arrest of people doing nothing but expressing themselves. That is downright tyrannical. 

Thats what they did in Cuba. 

Anyway, if you are going to call fans of anyone dangerous and gang like, it should be Justin Bieber.
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