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Band Sues FBI: Can You Be Labelled a "Gang" for Being a Fan of a Music Band?

Posted by on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM
  • 29 Replies

Insane Clown Posse sues FBI for labeling 'Juggalo' fans a gang

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 6:43 PM EST, Thu January 9, 2014

Watch this video

Insane Clown Posse suing FBI

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Juggalos are a 'family' of people who love and help one another," suit says
  • FBI analyst concluded in 2011 Insane Clown Posse fans are a "loosely-organized hybrid gang"
  • Gang designation violates free speech, free association and due process rights, suit says
  • Every large group includes "a relative handful engaged in criminal activity," suit contends

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Insane Clown Posse and four fans are suing the FBI for designating the rap duo's followers as gang members.

FBI analysts, using law enforcement and media reports of crimes committed by people wearing "Juggalo" tattoos and clothing, concluded in the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment that they are a "loosely organized hybrid gang."

"Juggalos are a 'family' of people who love and help one another, enjoy one another's company, and bond over the music and a philosophy of life," said the lawsuit filed in Detroit Wednesday. "Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture."

The gang designation violates fans' constitutional rights, including free speech, freedom of association and the right to due process, the complaint argues.

The softer side of Insane Clown Posse

People with "Juggalo" tattoos and clothing have been illegally targeted by police and denied jobs because of the FBI's gang designation, the complaint contends.

"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. Inevitably, some will do so while sporting the group's logos or symbols," the filing said. "However, it is wrong to designate the entire group of supporters as a criminal gang based on the acts of a few. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here."

The group has been battling with the FBI in court since 2012 for the release of any information the analysts used to make their determination. Most of the documents released were online news stories detailing robberies and violence in which "Juggalos" were suspects.

The Insane Clown Posse lawsuit claims that its followers identify with their songs, which "have hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life and the support that Juggalos give to one another."

Insane Clown Posse: Hate us, don't hate the fans

"Many people view Juggalos as nonconformists because of their musical tastes, their practice of painting their faces to look like clowns, and the distinctive Juggalo symbols -- including the 'hatchetman' logo -- that they often display on their clothing, jewelry, body art and bumper stickers," the suit said. "Yet when Juggalos come together at concerts or their annual week-long gathering every summer, they know that they are in a community where all people are equal and where they will be accepted and respected for who they are."

The wide distribution of the gang report to law enforcement agencies around the United States "has caused real harm to ordinary Juggalos from coast to coast."

The four fans who joined the lawsuit -- from Nevada, California, North Carolina and Iowa -- include a truck company owner who said he was detained by a state trooper in Tennessee because he was driving a truck with a "Juggalo" symbol on its side.

Another man has been repeatedly stopped and questioned by California police because of his visible "Juggalo" tattoos, the suit said.

A third fan was told by an Army recruiter that he could not join the military because of his "Juggalo" tattoo, it said. He was denied entry into the Army even after they were removed, the lawsuit said.

The fourth plaintiff is an active-duty soldier with "Juggalo" tattoos. The gang designation "places him in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge from the Army," the lawsuit said.

A Royal Oak, Michigan, theater canceled an Insane Clown Posse concert -- known as "Hallowicked" -- at the request of police, the suit said.

The U.S. Justice Department has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

"We don't comment on pending litigation," FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said when contacted by CNN.

"We're aware of the lawsuit," said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle. "We'll decline to comment."

*More info in second reply*

National Woman's Party


by on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Whoop Whoop!

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:37 PM

The bands Phish and Insane Clown Posse have spawned some of the most rabid fans in music history. Their world of obsession is not an easy one to break into, but on a warm December night in Miami back in 2009, pop culture writer Nathan Rabin went to see a concert that would inspire him to enter the orbit of these infamous groupies.

He wrote a book about them, You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me, and tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rebecca Sheir about his first-hand look at the two often-reviled sub-cultures.


Interview Highlights

On learning to understand the passion of Phish's devoted followers

"Going into the book, I had my own kind of preconception. I already had my own stereotypes, and over the process of writing this book, I think, one of the things that made the the journey that I went through was about rejecting irony and rejecting cynicism and rejecting snark.

"For example, the first year that I followed Phish — this was in 2010 — I followed them for eight, 10, 12 shows and I didn't get anything out of it. There was this barrier between me and this world that I wanted to be a part of, but I just didn't know my way in. And I remember looking at people dancing to, say, 'Boogie on Reggae Woman' — which is a cover they do of a Stevie Wonder song — and I remember the first time I heard it thinking, 'Ugh, this is just embarrassing. Middle-aged white men should not cover a song called "Boogie on Reggae Woman." '

"But the second year that I followed Phish, when I kind of let all that irony go, when I let all that critical distance go, I just found it to be unbelievably joyous. And I would look at people dancing at Phish shows and just feel like these are people who are overcome with joy and feel the need to express it. And it's both reductive and insulting and doing violence to the human spirit to look at that and just judge it and not just feel that sense of joy that permeates Phish shows."

On Insane Clown Posse's elevation of poverty

"There's also this kind of deification and romantization of poverty and a specific kind of poverty that I think is both really fun and refreshing, and also, I think, very liberating for poor kids who tend to be Insane Clown Posse's core demographic. if you grow up a latchkey kid and come from a broken family and don't have anything, you can't really relate to the Jay-Zs of the world but Insane Clown Posse, they kind of make it seem cool to be poor and reviled and one of the scrubs of life. I that I think is really really appealing and not just to kids and weirdos and outcasts the world over, but to me while was writing this book."

On the macabre aesthetic of Insane Clown Posse

"A lot of the Insane Clown Posse's imagery is very dark, is very disturbing and very violent, but the overall message of it is to lead a good life and to be good to your fellow person and to love thy fellow Juggalo [fans of Insane Clown Posse]. At the heart of it is basically this fundamental Judeo-Christian mythology to live a good life and you go to heaven — which they call Shangri-La — be a bad person, exploit other people, rip off the poor, you go to hell's pit."

On the significance of annual Insane Clown Posse gatherings

For 360 days, being a Juggalo makes them an outcast and makes them reviled and makes them a pariah. But four or five days of the year, being a Juggalo makes them the king of the world and everybody loves them and Insane Clown Posse is the most popular group in the world. It's this alternate universe they can escape into from the dreariness and the mundanity of everyday life. I feel like that's something that Phish and Insane Clown Posse both offer is this possibility of transcendence that is very rare in our culture.

motha2daDuchess
by Bruja on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

I read at a concert in Detroit the audience was throwing bottles and rocks at the opening acts...and this wasn't an isolated incident. I like one songs from ICP but a lot of their fans are overboard

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

I think it is pretty much accepted that this happens at ICP concerts. Would this make the Jugaloos a "gang"? 

Quoting motha2daDuchess:

I read at a concert in Detroit the audience was throwing bottles and rocks at the opening acts...and this wasn't an isolated incident. I like one songs from ICP but a lot of their fans are overboard


National Woman's Party


thatgirl70
by Bronze Member on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:49 PM
1 mom liked this

How did I know this was about ICP before I even opened? LOL

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:51 PM

I have a tie dye shirt with dancing teddy bears on it...does that make me a gang member?

autodidact
by Platinum Member on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:52 PM

yeah, I knew it would be these idiots when I saw the title.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:53 PM

LOL...notice my second response compares Phish fans....I think we could put in Dead Heads, Parrot Heads and Little Monsters in this group too? 

Quoting thatgirl70:

How did I know this was about ICP before I even opened? LOL


National Woman's Party


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:53 PM

What do you think about the FBI calling out all Juggalos as a gang?

Quoting autodidact:

yeah, I knew it would be these idiots when I saw the title.


National Woman's Party


motha2daDuchess
by Bruja on Jan. 15, 2014 at 2:54 PM

I think they have a gang mentality as the fans and the group encourages it, can be seen as gang activity...in places where there is gang activity more than 3 or 4 people together can be seen and classified as a gang

Quoting NWP:

I think it is pretty much accepted that this happens at ICP concerts. Would this make the Jugaloos a "gang"? 

Quoting motha2daDuchess:

I read at a concert in Detroit the audience was throwing bottles and rocks at the opening acts...and this wasn't an isolated incident. I like one songs from ICP but a lot of their fans are overboard



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