Insane Clown Posse Sues FBI For Calling The Juggalos A Gang

from the with-an-assist-from-the-aclu dept

The ACLU has taken up the case of the Juggalos. As you may have heard, back in 2011, the FBI bizarrely classified the fans of the music group, The Insane Clown Posse, who refer to themselves as the Juggalos, as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang… rapidly expanding into many US communities.” This was in the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment report. In response, a group of Juggalos and the group itself have now filed a lawsuit.

“The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are, to gather and share their appreciation of music, and to discuss issues that are important to them without fear of being unfairly targeted and harassed by police,” said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director. “Branding hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members based on the acts of a few individuals defies logic and violates our most cherished of constitutional rights.”

The full complaint, embedded below, is worth reading. The ACLU was able to find Juggalos who actually ran into issues because of the designation. For example, one plaintiff, a Juggalo named Mark Parsons, runs a small trucking business called Juggalo Express, and whose truck has the ICP logo on it. According to the lawsuit, he was pulled over by the police:

The State Trooper indicated that he detained Parsons for an inspection because of the hatchetman logo on the truck.

The State Trooper indicated that he considered Juggalos to be a criminal gang because of the DOJ’s designation.

The State Trooper asked Parsons if he had any axes, hatchets, or other similar chopping instruments in the truck. Parsons truthfully answered that he did not.

The State Trooper continued to search the truck and interrogate Parsons for about an hour, delaying Parsons’ time-sensitive hauling work. During the search, the State Trooper did not find any weapons or contraband. The State Trooper did not issue a ticket or other citation to Parsons.

Other plaintiffs have a bunch of examples of being stopped or detained by the police for their association with the Juggalos, and law enforcement asserting directly to them that they’re part of a gang. One plaintiff was told he couldn’t join the Army because he was a Juggalo.

The claims include a First Amendment claim, arguing that this goes against the right to associate for expression, as well a straight up free expression violation as well. For what it’s worth, the group itself appeared at the press conference announcing this in full ICP makeup.

This whole thing seems to fit squarely into the classification of crazy moral panics by the FBI against music fans.

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Comments on “Insane Clown Posse Sues FBI For Calling The Juggalos A Gang”

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kitsune361 (profile) says:

Re: I'm not sure WHAT to think about this...

They never really went away, they just dropped out of the mainstream music biz (like they were ever really there to begin with). They’ve also done what a lot of other artists have done, started a label and produced others who share their style. They even signed Vanilla Ice for his “comeback” a few years back.

This is not to mention all the side projects, B-Movies and pro-wrestling.

I’m surprised this is the first we’re read about ICP on Techdirt as their story fits very well with some of the themes on here of getting screwed by the man, building a fanbase anyway, and seeing success, even if it isn’t “mainstream”.

Paul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m going to disagree with you on this. Killing a person is not always wrong. The examples you cite are the times it is not only justified, but often morally correct in my opinion.

In the case of the cop stop, the officer was, in fact, right to take what he knew to be a “gang symbol” into account when making a stop. However, it was wrong of those he felt were informed authorities to make that assertion to start with. The officer in this case (insofar as I can judge with the limited information available) was in the right, the FBI was (and still is) in the wrong.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve seen gangs running transport businesses, although the law calls it “smuggling”.

Classifying all Juggalos as gang member is totally unjustified. That there exists at least one actual gang that identifies themselves as Juggalos doesn’t change that.

It’d be like if there was a street gang that self-identified as Metallica fans. Would that justify declaring all Metallica fans to be gang members?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ah, I see our disconnect. I agree, I don’t think that the cop behaved incorrectly. The FBI is at fault here, for telling the cops that Juggalos == gang members.

This is the case that ICP is making, too. They only brought up the cop stop because that’s an indication of the harm the FBI is doing, not because the cop did anything wrong.

Reality Check (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And all cops should have a camera and audio recording running at all times.

If the cop is accused of brutality, theft, rape or any other breach of public trust at any time that the device is ‘malfunctioning’, then the cop should be automatically permanently dismissed, regardless of the outcome of the accusation.

And YES. Internal Affairs should randomly monitor ALL cops. Ideally Internal Affairs from a different jurisdiction.

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I get what you’re saying, but here’s the thing. A tiny minority of ICP fans formed a gang, using a name commonly used to refer to all ICP fans. Now all ICP fans are subject to intrusions into their lives because of a few.

Having said that, I think that ICP needs to take some responsibility in both directions. It’s great that they’re coming to the defence of the majority of their fans who are not involved in criminal gangs. They also need to make it clear to the tiny minority that this is not cool. Moreover, it wouldn’t be nearly as expensive as a lawsuit; a statement or a song would be sufficient.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

Better be careful because this could be expanded. Movie fans could be next:

“Jedi Knights”
“Stormtrooper Squads”

How about other fans of music groups such as:

Bruce Springsteen fans
Def Leppard fans
Metallica fans

And the list goes on and on. The RIAA and the MPAA need to step up and file a lawsuit against the FBI because the government is turning the movie and music industry into nothing more than a criminal enterprise.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In that case you might want to read and think on the following:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niem?ller (1892?1984)

Even if you don’t like a group, even if you actively hate them, fighting against injustices perpetrated against them is still the right thing to do, and helps everyone, quite possibly including you as well sometime down the road.

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