From the We Couldn’t Make This Shit Up If We Tried Dept.: Remember how, way back in 2012, we told you that Insane Clown Posse were thinking about suing the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department over classifying the rap duo’s fans, the Juggalos, as a criminal street gang? Well, it took ’em awhile, but damn if Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope ain’t gone ahead and done it. Federal government, you’re about to get sprayed in the face with the sweet, sweet Faygo of justice, bitch!
All kidding aside, this is actually a pretty serious case. Whatever you may think of ICP and their ridiculous clown makeup and ultra-violent lyrics, trying to characterize their entire fan base as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” sets a dangerous precedent for fans of any kind of underground or extreme music. Can you imagine if clubs started enforcing a “no horns” policy at metal shows, because throwing horns was classified as a gang sign? Or if you got fired from your job because you came in sporting one of those gang-affiliated DEVO tattoos?
Those hypotheticals, according to the lawsuit, are already becoming reality for some Juggalos. One of the plaintiffs in the case says he wasn’t allowed to enlist in the Army because of his Juggalo tattoos; another is already serving in the military and says he is “in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge” because of his tatts. Others claim they’ve been stopped and harrassed by police for having ICP bumper stickers or clothing. Violent J and Shaggy themselves claim that the gang label has cut their merch sales in half and made it harder for them to book shows.
Have Juggalos committed violent crimes? Sure. Did they commit them because of their Juggalo affiliation or ICP’s music? Maybe in some cases, but the feds have yet to prove anything of the sort. In 2012, ICP filed a complaint in response to the FBI’s gang classification, seeking more information on how Juggalos got labeled a gang. In response, the feds basically just sent them a stack of newspaper articles documenting ICP fans getting arrested for various offenses. Based on that kind of rock-solid police work, you could classify all dudes with mustaches as criminals. Or all hoodie wearers. Or all black people. Come to think of it, those last two examples are kind of true already.
You might think a couple of horrorcore rappers in clown paint have zero chance against Uncle Sam, but odds are this case will get a full hearing. ICP have enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union to file the suit on their behalf. “It is a quintessential civil liberties case challenging government abuse,” the legal director of ACLU Michigan told the Associated Press. Two whoops for civil liberties!
More on this story as it develops.