In 2011 The FBI listed fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse, known as Juggalos, on the National Gang Threat Assessment report. The face painted rappers said they would sue the FBI after labeling the duos loyal fan base as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang,” and they held true to their word by filing a lawsuit in early January of 2014. Not only are the two members of the group, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope involved in the lawsuit, but four Juggalos are also suing, saying that they have been harassed by police and have been discriminated against due to their affiliation with the group. This isn’t the first time they have gone after the FBI though, in 2012 they filed a lawsuit to attain the documents that the FBI used to come to the conclusion that Juggalos should be classified as a gang, but federal authorities dismissed this case stating that they had already shared much of the material the documents contained.
This new lawsuit, which the rap group has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union on, says that the decision to classify the Juggalos as a gang was “unwarranted and unlawful decision,” and that it has caused them “significant harm.” This is about more than just music, and many that are not fans of the music are standing on the side of ICP. Another statement made in the lawsuit says “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. However, it is wrong to designate the entire group of supporters as a criminal gang based on the acts of a few.” I couldn’t have said this better myself. It’s just a form of entertainment, you don’t see anyone labeling fans of Stephen King (who has written about homicides and evil clowns, which are the subject of many ICP songs) gang members do you?
The four fans that are involved in the lawsuit, one being from Concord, NC, have all been negatively affected for being nothing more than fans of a couple of rappers. The plaintiff from NC was denied when attempting to join the military because his Juggalo tattoos were “gang-related.” After spending hundreds of dollars to cover them up with other tattoos, he claims his application to the army was still denied. Another plaintiff claims he was detained by a Tennessee state trooper for displaying the groups logo, “the hatchet man” on the side of his truck. Whether you’re a fan of the music or not, you have to see something wrong with these situations, right? Some of the fans may be criminals, but that doesn’t mean ALL of them are. Someone shouldn’t be denied a job or entrance into the military just because they like the groups music. Whatever happened to the “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” rule? ICP has set up a website where fans can post cases in which they felt their rights have been violated because of their love of the groups music; lawyers will review your case and possibly fight for you in court.
ICP has had concerts cancelled and stores refuse to sell their products. They have been given a bad reputation by the FBI’s classification. Now that the fans are being mistreated as well, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have had enough; they are proving that their fans are what’s most important and fighting for them in court. Juggalos always claim to be “family” and I think they’re doing a pretty good job of proving that that’s a better term than “gang” by standing up for one another when times have gotten hard for the clown faced pair and Juggalos. This is a case that will be interesting and probably very entertaining to watch as it plays out. I bet you didn’t think a couple of foul mouthed rappers that paint their faces like clowns were capable of suing the FBI, did you?