The Insane Clown Posse, an oft-kitschy rap group whose members paint their faces in a clown-like manner, likely doesn’t come immediately to mind when you think of groups fighting against police state intrusions upon liberty by the Federal bureaucracy. But the group has become a perfect example of the height of ridiculousness that America’s everyone-is-guilty society has reached.
Die-hard fans of the rap outfit, known as Juggalos, would likely be viewed by someone unfamiliar with the culture with a fair amount of skepticism. After all, the “music” produced by Insane Clown Posse is rife with often-offensive lyrics that describe acts of violence and decadent behaviors. The FBI, however, took it a step further last year by describing Juggalos as members of a “loose-knit gang” on par with the likes of Crypt, Blood and MS-13 gang members in its “2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.” Before the FBI classification, four States — California, Pennsylvania, Utah and Arizona — had classified the band’s fans as such.
In its report, the FBI describes the “gang” as follows:
The Juggalos, a loosely-organized hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although recognized as a gang in only four states, many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence. Law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo sub-sets, according to NGIC [National Gang Intelligence Center] reporting.
NGIC reporting indicates that Juggalo gangs are expanding in New Mexico primarily because they are attracted to the tribal and cultural traditions of the Native Americans residing nearby.
Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism.
The gang classification of Insane Clown Posse briefly made headlines last year when WIRED contributor Spencer Ackerman pointed out the FBI’s report, but faded in relevance until this month. On Aug. 1, the U.S. Marshals Service issued a press release lauding the arrest of probation violator and “gang member” Mark Anthony Carlson in Texas. Carlson had violated the terms of probation stemming from a previous arrest for armed robbery and was on New Mexico’s most wanted list.
The release states that Carlson is a member of the Insane Clown Posse “Juggalo” gang.
The government’s classification of its fan base as a massive gang, brought back to light by the press release, has prompted Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler) of the rap group to seek legal action against the FBI.
Utlser said of the action: “It’s been almost a year since Juggalos were put on the National Gang Threat Assessment and we are hearing too many stories from our fans about the trouble it’s causing them. Just because you like a music group, doesn’t make you a criminal.”
With the backing of the legal counsel that represents the record label that produces Insane Clown Posse’s music, the band is seeking self-described Juggalos that have been affected by the FBI’s classification of the fans as gang members.
They said in a recent press release:
We are seeking individuals who have experienced any of the following based on a government employee or other’s knowledge of the Juggalo ‘gang’ status as stated in the 2011 National Gang Assessment:
1. Stopped by Border Patrol (U.S., Canadian or otherwise)
2. Stopped or denied ability to fly on an airline
3. Increased criminal sentencing or denial of parole
4. Transfer of a juvenile criminal offender from juvenile court to circuit (“adult”) court
5. Denial of job opportunity, loss of employment
6. Denial of permit to march, boycott, assemble
7. Denial of a vendor to sell Juggalo merchandise
8. An injunction preventing the Juggalos from congregating in any area, wearing Juggalo clothing, displaying tattoos
9. Pulled over or detained by law enforcement
10. Any other denial of a right, liberty, property
While the classification of people who enjoy the strange music of Insane Clown Posse as gang members may not seem like a problem that pertains to the vast majority of Americans, some people note that it brings up a much broader issue imposed upon the public by the police/surveillance state.
The FBI embarked on a massive “Communities Against Terror” campaign in the past few years and distributes flyers to businesses in a variety of industries to help business owners spot terrorists. The flyers do not identify distasteful music and obnoxious Juggalo tattoos, however, as possible indicators of dangerous persons; they list several innocuous activities that implicate preppers, conservatives, privacy advocates and dissidents as potential terrorists.
The agency, in the same broad manner, has said that disdain for taxes, a dislike for the green movement and support of a gold standard are indicators that an individual could be a ticking time bomb and should be viewed as extremely dangerous by law enforcement officers.
This vitriol toward right-leaning Americans who support smaller government and less bureaucracy is intensified each time any criminal who can be even remotely linked to conservative philosophy by the FBI makes headlines for a horrible atrocity.
It may seem like no big deal that Insane Clown Posse fans are listed as gang members simply for being drawn to a less-than-tasteful genre of music. But what is a big deal is Federal law agencies’ willingness to make broad indictments against people who hold views not of the mainstream to legitimize complete government surveillance.