Why Is Insane Clown Posse Suing the FBI?

And what’s an insane clown posse?

These guys are suing the FBI.
National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
Brian Resnick
Jan. 8, 2014, 8:16 a.m.

This is In­sane Clown Posse.

They are a rap group from Michigan and the de facto icons of the Jug­galo sub­cul­ture.

A Jug­galo is a per­son char­ac­ter­ized by stark black-and-white clown-face makeup who listens to In­sane Clown Posse’s mu­sic. You could de­scribe the band’s mu­sic as ag­gress­ive, hard-core rap. Or maybe not: This writer has near-zero fa­mili­ar­ity with their mu­sic.

A fe­male Jug­galo is a Jug­galette, per Wiki­pe­dia.

Some Jug­galos have, in re­cent times, been linked to gang vi­ol­ence — or at least that’s how the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment sees it. However, as Wired re­lays, the en­tirety of the “gang vi­ol­ence” cat­egor­iz­a­tion may rest on just two ar­rests in Salt Lake City in 2011, which promp­ted an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to pos­sible gang activ­ity.

Then, in 2011, the FBI cat­egor­ized Jug­galos as a “non-tra­di­tion­al gang” in their Na­tion­al Gang Threat Asse­ment. In it, the FBI writes:

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….

Most crimes com­mit­ted by Jug­galos are sporad­ic, dis­or­gan­ized, in­di­vidu­al­ist­ic, and of­ten in­volve simple as­sault, per­son­al drug use and pos­ses­sion, petty theft, and van­dal­ism.

The FBI ad­mits that the group is “dif­fi­cult to clas­si­fy … and identi­fy their mem­bers and mi­gra­tion pat­terns,” kind of like this rare spe­cies of Amazon bird. Hy­brid gangs, they write, have a “neb­u­lous struc­ture.” Kind of like clouds, whose con­tours and men­ace tend to dis­ap­pear upon closer in­spec­tion. It seems en­tirely pos­sible that the FBI is con­flat­ing gang crimes with a few sporad­ic in­stances of hoo­ligan­ism, based on the ste­reo­type of a per­son who might look apt to com­mit a crime.

Peace­ful Jug­galos were of­fen­ded by the de­scrip­tion of their sub­cul­ture in this man­ner, and ar­gued that the ac­tions of a view shouldn’t im­plic­ate the repu­ta­tion of the whole. That’s why In­sane Clown Posse, along with sev­er­al oth­er Jug­galos who have faced dis­crim­in­a­tion (one was told to re­move his Jug­galo tat­too be­fore join­ing the mil­it­ary) filed suit Wed­nes­day morn­ing in a De­troit fed­er­al court with help from the ACLU. They want “Jug­galos” purged from the FBI gang primer. This fol­lows a suit the group filed in 2012 over a FOIA re­quest to ob­tain in­form­a­tion about the fed­er­al in­vest­ig­a­tion.

As they an­nounced to their fans when they filed the FOIA suit last year:

Listen up, Hom­ies! This is the biggest thing to rock the Jug­galo and Jug­galette uni­verse and we’ve got all the de­tails for you right here! In case you haven’t heard, then get ready! The In­sane Clown Posse and Psy­cho­path­ic Re­cords have kept their word and filed a law­suit against the FBI on be­half of the Jug­galo Fam­ily TODAY! …

Really, this is the first time in the his­tory of rock-n-roll that any mu­sic fans have been labeled as a “gang” and that’s prob­ably be­cause it makes no damn sense!

In­sane Clown Posse mem­ber Vi­ol­ent J says that the group’s im­age is un­fairly dis­tor­ted by the FBI, telling Rolling Stone, “All we’re try­ing to do is be like the Steph­en King of mu­sic. We like to tell hor­ror stor­ies.”

Up­date: This short doc­u­ment­ary on Jug­galos ex­plain­ing their cul­ture is worth watch­ing (H/T Alex Seitz-Wald)

Amer­ic­an Jug­galo from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

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