DOJ Says 'Not Our Fault' That Police Actually Believed FBI Report Calling Juggalos Gang Members

from the bwah? dept

As you may recall, when the FBI wrote up its National Gang Threat Assessment report in 2011, it ridiculously included the Juggalos, better known as fans of The Insane Clown Posse. And while certain Juggalos may, at times, get a bit rowdy, declaring all of them to be a gang clearly went too far. Yet, including them in the National Gang Threat Assessment report is kind of a big deal. That’s because law enforcement agencies actually pay attention to the FBI report and use it as a guideline for policy, resulting in a bunch of music fans experiencing very real police action. Officers citing the report questioned, searched, and otherwise harassed ICP fans where they otherwise would not have. That led to the ACLU and ICP teaming up in a lawsuit to get the Juggalos dropped from the report and get relief from law enforcement agencies everywhere now operating under the belief that a group of passionate music fans were somehow a criminal organization.

Well, the DOJ has now formally requested that the lawsuit be dropped. The rationale? Because what law enforcement agencies do with the FBI’s report is, like, totally not the FBI’s fault, man.

Justice Department attorney Amy Powell said the group and its fans have no standing to sue. She said the government is not responsible for how police agencies use information in the 2011 national gang report. Powell said a “subjective chill” as alleged by plaintiffs was not enough to be in court.

“There is no general right of protection to a social association,” she said, referring to First Amendment violations argued by Insane Clown Posse and its fans.

It’s an interesting theory to put forth, that the FBI, essentially the king of domestic police agencies, has no culpability for local police using its report, which included the demonizing of music fans. In other words, the FBI can simply label any group it likes a gang organization without recourse. Local police will, of course, simply point back to the report when questioned about their activities, and now we have a recursive loop of non-responsibility. I’m pretty sure that’s some kind of government agency golden egg.

As for there being no right of protection to a social association in the First Amendment, I mean…it does say no law shall be made prohibiting the right of peaceful assembly. If gang laws lead to the FBI putting out a report that causes law enforcement to continually harass groups of citizens not committing any crime, how many degrees of separation from Congress do we have to go before the First Amendment doesn’t matter any longer?

In addition, the DOJ also claimed that its latest gang list no longer includes the Juggalos, and believes that law enforcement will no longer make use of the 2011 one, so everyone should just chill out. In short: “bygones.” According to the DOJ, it’s fine for the FBI to label a group of music fans a criminal gang and have its members harassed for a bit, just so long as, by the time a lawsuit comes about, the FBI no longer considers them a gang.

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Comments on “DOJ Says 'Not Our Fault' That Police Actually Believed FBI Report Calling Juggalos Gang Members”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Lilbel, anyone?

If you point out Fox News specifically without including all of the other organizations that have done the same only shows that you lack the necessary faculties to be objective about anything.

It appears you might just be a moron too… just not a Government-sanctioned one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Lilbel, anyone?

Actually I’m a Juggalo, have been for 17 years, I’m married to a non juggalette, been with her 13 years. FOX news fan, conservative libertarian. I am a CCW holder, never been in any type of trouble, never done any type of illegal drug or meds that wasn’t prescribed to me. I am a homeowner. I have been with my current job for 14 years. I pay my taxes. My bills are paid. I am your ordinary law abiding citizen. I believe a big problem right now is how divided we are, you can’t side with the others because “they believe in abortion or dont believe in same sex marriage so we can never side with them”, issues that have nothing to do with what is present but they are always brought up. The way I see it, our rights are slowly being taken away, censorship is slowly being forced on us and all because we stand divided over everything. A little common sense goes a longway. Well done by the government, to be so divisive, huh? Whats going to stop them from classifying catholics a gang if a child porn ring is discovered within several members computers of a couple churches? What about anybody involved in IT being put on a watch list because of hackers? Anybody that supports the pink ribbon and Susan G Komen(they are organized) if a few of them decide to rip off old people’s identity. Do not doubt it because I just like music and I am now a gang member… We’re not asking to like us or to listen to our music, we just need your support against oppression of the government. You and your friends might be next.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lilbel, anyone?

? something false and defamatory about a group of people?

So-called ?group libel? is generally not actionable in American law.

Here’s an explanation from Eugene Volokh:

?Group libel? lawsuits claiming that a race, ethnic group, religion, and the like was libeled by knowing or reckless falsehoods about them aren?t allowed under modern American libel law. But the matter is different when the group is small enough; in the words of the Restatement (Second) of Torts,

One who publishes defamatory matter concerning a group or class of persons is subject to liability to an individual member of it if, but only if,

(a) the group or class is so small that the matter can reasonably be understood to refer to the member, or

(b) the circumstances of publication reasonably give rise to the conclusion that there is particular reference to the member?.

Comment a. As a general rule no action lies for the publication of defamatory words concerning a large group or class of persons. Unless the group itself is an unincorporated association, as to which see ? 562, it cannot maintain the action; and no individual member of the group can recover for such broad and general defamation. The words are not reasonably understood to have any personal application to any individual unless there are circumstances that give them such an application. The extreme example is the statement of David that ?All men are liars,? which in a sense defames all mankind and yet could not reasonably be taken to have any personal reference to each member of the human race. On the same basis, the statement that ?All lawyers are shysters,? or that all of a great many persons engaged in a particular trade or business or those of a particular race or creed are dishonest cannot ordinarily be taken to have personal reference to any of the class.


Professor Volokh’s extract from the Restatement (Second) of Torts continues with illustrations, which I’ve omitted here for the sake of brevity, but which you may read at Professor Volokh’s post.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It seems to me that there is a legitimate interest in providing law enforcement agencies with a list of actual gangs in operation. It would help them to recognize problems that otherwise might not be noticed right away.

The problem is that the potential for harm is very high. The DOJ absolutely needs to be much less cavalier about this sort of thing, or we end up with a situation like the no-fly list.

I am increasingly dismayed at how the DOJ seems to be making every effort possible to ensure that “justice” never sullies their operation.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Honestly, the FBI SHOULD be maintaining a list of active organized crime groups. The ones that span multiple states – or even just large areas within a state – are important to keep track of and let local law enforcement know about their activities outside of their areas.

If a drug gang operating in New York and New Jersey takes over gun running from another gang in New Jersey, someone that watches overall can warn the New York police.

You would hope, however, that the FBI would do a bit better to only include actual gangs in the report and stop watching groups of music fans.

Groaker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is an enormous valuable and legitimate interest in an agency that is reliable and truthful in the provision of proper and appropriate data to lower levels of government.

But the DOJ, and many other alphabet agencies have destroyed their reputations by criminality, lies, evasion, and denial that the law applies to them.

What should be a terrific resource has been made so unreliable that it will take decades to remediate in the unlikely event that such efforts were started now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s a fucking dumb idea, classifying all Juggalos under ‘promoting lawlessness and therefore warranting extra attention,’ given that the identifying marks of Juggalos only fall under two criteria: physical appearance and musical taste. Juggalos as a group are not involved with crime even if individual Juggalos may have committed crimes.

In other words, you’d be saying that everyone who looks a certain way and listens to a certain music ‘warrants extra attention’ even though the group that shares that appearance and musical taste is not associated with criminal activity. Can you not see why that’s a problem?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, as with all things in the law, there is a gray area here. I think it would be reasonable to keep tabs on groups that appear to be engaging in systemic lawbreaking. Whether it’s actually systemic or not is academic.

The point is that the group should not be tracked unless the group itself has a habit of engaging in criminal activity. If it does this, I think it can properly be labelled a “gang”.

If it’s simply a matter of a group of like-minded people (such as fans of a particular musical act) acting badly when they get together, that doesn’t rise to the level of a “gang”. It’s just a group of assholes. Tracking them would be a waste of resources at best, since they don’t coordinate their criminal activity. The more productive way to deal with them is to ensure that the cops are nearby whenever the act puts on a show.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think it would be reasonable to keep tabs on groups that appear to be engaging in systemic lawbreaking. Whether it’s actually systemic or not is academic.

Is it really academic, though? A gang coordinates criminal activities, whereas groups like the Juggalos just get together and, if they’re up to no good, engage in criminal behavior without specific planning or formal coordination.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What I mean by that is more basic: if a group of people appear to be engaging in systemic lawbreaking, that seems to me to be a reasonable group for law enforcement to investigate. At that decision point, whether or not the lawbreaking is systemic is academic. Once the investigation confirms or denies the systemic nature of it, it’s no longer academic.

SkarletteB says:

Re: Re:

The hells angels ARE actually involved in many criminal activities, gun runing, drug smuggling, child porn, ect. To group juggalos in with them is incompetent. I’ve seen juggalos do more good and provide more charity in the past than do any bad. A small group of them just raised 5000 for autism! Their misjudged because of appearance and misunderstood antics and lyrics plain and simple.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

How does this differ from racial profiling?

It seems to me that there is a legitimate interest in providing law enforcement agencies with a list of actual gangs in operation…The problem is that the potential for harm is very high.

And that’s the problem right there. We’ve seen function creep with every system used by DoJ, especially law enforcement. Given the cost of our liberties for the scant security they offer, I’d ban them all until we can find ways to prevent function creep that actually work.

If racial profiling is wrong, I’d think that subculture profiling would be wrong too. The gang list should be reserved only for those groups for which there is an established chain of evidence indicating a unilateral hierarchy.

Otherwise we’re going to see rock-&-rollers, goths, straight-edgers, gays, alt-sexers, Mormons, neopagans, AD&D players, MTG players and video gamers all fall into the same kinds of watch-lists.

Oh wait…all those already happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

how many degrees of separation from Congress do we have to go before the First Amendment doesn’t matter any longer?

The FBI is funded by Congress in a series of laws called “the budget”. So it seems to me that if the FBI continues along these lines, it will be unconstitutional for Congress to keep including them in that budget.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Isn't that profiling?

Well, as with all things in the law, there is a gray area here. I think it would be reasonable to keep tabs on groups that appear to be engaging in systemic lawbreaking. Whether it’s actually systemic or not is academic.

Such as blacks who live in lower-class neighborhoods?

Why should some groups with common attributes be immune to profiling while others not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Isn't that profiling?

Why should some groups with common attributes be immune to profiling ??

Due to America’s history of chattel slavery (prior to thirteenth amendment), as well as other history, certain group classifications are held to be inherently suspect. That is, if you’re discrimating against blacks, then we have good reason to suspect that you might be racist. It’s a matter of experience.

See Suspect Classification

A presumptively unconstitutional distinction made between individuals on the basis of race, national origin, alienage, or religious affiliation, in a statute, ordinance, regulation, or policy.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that certain kinds of government discrimination are inherently suspect?.?.?.?.

Strict Scrutiny of a suspect classification reverses the ordinary presumption of constitutionality?.?.?.?.

Race is the clearest example of a suspect classification.?.?.?.?.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Isn't that profiling?

Now there’s a tremendous logical leap right there!

Not logic, history.

It has been observed, at least anecdotally, that blacks who live in lower-class neighborhoods appear to be engaging in systemic lawbreaking and would be designated as a dangerous group by the FBI.

We’ve since developed racial profiling laws, which still doesn’t stop the police from favoring black suspects (or at least non-white suspects) over white ones. Remember in the 70s it was still stereotypical that blacks raped white women even though since then, we have statistics that suggest that’s an uncommon scenario.

My point remains the same.

A group that dresses similarly and may express discontent (i.e. create at atmosphere of lawlessness) should not be grounds to designate them as a gang or even a dangerous group. There should be evidence of a unilateral hierarchy.

And this is especially the case if other agencies are going to treat such a list as probable cause, which is what is going on.

Nathan says:

I'm a Juggalo

I’m a Juggalo with a Hatchet Man Tattoo am I a gang member no I am not should I be treated as such because of the music I listen to NO I should not. I’m not a criminal I don’t do drugs, I don’t steal, I don’t even break the law. So before you say there unorganized gang look at all the fan base and not the 1500 or so out of 100,000 plus listeners or Juggalo’s and Juggalettes. Because I’m telling you the cop that pulls you over might just be a Juggalo himself or even that doctor that is trying to treat you hell your Lawyer might even be a Juggalo to be honest. I know a lot of different professional people who listen and like Psychopathic Records. Also for you that say let’s riot over the NSA sorry but you can’t riot as that’s a violent crime you can however get together and protest such matter but, Americans are too afraid of the police and government it’s not funny.

Anonymous Coward says:

If anyone is interested in seeing exactly what the FBI said about the Juggalos, here’s the report:

Just search for “juggalos” and you’ll eventually find the entry on them.

It says that Juggalos are considered a gang in only 4 states, but then proceeds to list some of the criminal acts that criminals who happen to be Juggalos have perpetrated. It never states why their association with a music fan group induces them to commit criminal acts as is typically the case with real gangs.

You don’t get asked to murder someone in order to be allowed to dress up in silly makeup and listen to bad music.

Maybe all the school shootings that have happened should inspire the FBI to add “disaffected white male youths” as a gang if we’re going to be that loose with associating group membership and criminal activity.

jennifer bonham says:

everything you guys are saying is bullshit

Everyone who is a juggalo like myself don’t go out causing problems just for the hell of it. Older juggalos know how to act but you have these liddle freaking kids acting and claiming something they KNOW nothing about! If us juggalos didn’t have these kids running around acting stupid we would be having this problem!

Steven Freehoff says:

I’ve been listening to ICP and other artists on the record label since the start. I don’t go out and act a fool committing crimes. All I do is take care of my children and go to shows when i can afford to. So calling me a gang member cause i dress a certain way or listen to a certain musical group is just plain stupid and ignorant. You can’t judge a whole group by the actions of a few people.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

It would make Jackson, TN a dangerous group, e.g. a gang.

A presumptively unconstitutional distinction made between individuals on the basis of race, national origin, alienage, or religious affiliation…

Yeah, that’s dangerous, since the implication is that any subculture can be preferred or excluded by law on any other basis than those specified. Which is why we are still trying to establish rights for gays, a singular select group.

I already mentioned incidents in which enthusiasts of a given culture were previously regarded as dangerous and subject to harassment and discrimination by society, and there are plenty more.

And it really sucks that we have to opt-in each one of them one at a time, rather than blanket-deciding that all non-mainstream subcultures should be given the same live-and-let-live protections, especially given that in a nation of four-hundred million people, we’re going to have an awful lot of people who make other people uncomfortable.

Also this notion of an atmosphere of lawlessness is going to except everyone given we all average three felonies a day. Maybe if they decided that once a given violent-crime-per-capita rate was established over the course of three years that that could be considered a dangerous group. (I’ll arbitrarily suggest a 10% violent crime rate)

Maybe the FBI just doesn’t like the Juggalo clown-faces. Makes them look too much like minions of The Joker.

Mantis Toboggan says:

ICP is for human refuse

Maybe you juggaturds should consider that this gang assasment was based on the actions of thousandsof your pathetic “fam” members. Quit crying, take some accountability,get a job,and wash off the fucking douchebag facepaint. If you want to be treated like a respectable human being, running around with other social parasite scumbags, saying stupid shit like “whoop woop!”, painted up like a circus reject, making hand signs, probably isn’t going to help change anyone’s mind about how you have been correctly labeled.

Just because your gang is fucking pathetic, unorganized, and “music” related, doesn’t mean it isn’t a gang. It’s just a really shitty one.

Kill yourselves.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: ICP is for human refuse

Just because your gang is fucking pathetic, unorganized, and “music” related, doesn’t mean it isn’t a gang. It’s just a really shitty one.

Dude, this isn’t /b/.

Actually, a group that is disorganized precludes it from being a gang based on the FBI designation. The National Gang Threat Assessment is

Given this response to an improper categorization, they may be trying to discredit their own report, but the point of the report is to note which groups qualify as an organized and dangerous threat to the people of the US (e.g. Crips, American Mafia, Triads, People Nation and so on) in contrast to those that aren’t (Critical Mass, Unification Church, KISS fans, Furries, Code Pink and so on).

Pathetic or not Juggalos fall into the latter category.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: ICP is for human refuse


As I was saying

Actually, a group that is disorganized precludes it from being a gang based on the FBI designation. The National Gang Threat Assessment is…

…intended to identify organized groups that actively engage in profitable racketeering and centralize those funds to further their activities. That’s different from a given demographic or subculture a tiny ratio of which engages in crime (in some cases, such as goths and gamers, less crime than the general population).

David White says:

Am I?

Am I a juggalo? Well I’m not a gang member if that’s wat u askin. Do I listen to icp? Wat chew think….Now to the point.
As a kid I didn’t have many friends. The ones that desided to take that role got beat up for it. I had my fair share of ass kickins (n other words I got beat up for u word twistas out their). The friends I did have, I had their back (this was way before icp came into my life). Most ppl got to get paid to be ur freind, or atlest have rich parents to be cool. My homies got their asses kicked for me(TRUE FREINDS if u ask me). As time moved forward, we did start listenin to icp.
WHY DID WE START TO LISTEN TO ICP! Simple, they where the worlds most hated band. Well we where the town most hated kids, it only felt right. Ya their music gets alil violent, givin Js full name. Wat about them other kids, the bullies, they weren’t violent? They grouped up around me so the teachers couldnt see, whopped my ass n proseded to chuck rocks at my homies. One got hit n the head, did anyone get n trouble. No, the teachers weren’t sure who did it. We would go home, tell our parents. Some thought we antagonized it. Some days my mom would go in, they would tell her theirs nothing they could do cuz they couldnt prove anything. Then proseded to tell her how they were concerned about my grades, G I WONDER WHY! So…. The teachers didn’t have our back, our parents couldnt do shit, but we had each other. We heard icp, they became our spokes person, n ya we fought back. It only took once. Then we were cool, but we didn’t want to be, we were scrubs, n proud of it, fuck them. We had our own group to be loyal to, we had the juggalos, all three of them.
I ended up moving out of town, met some new friends. They weren’t juggalos, they just really liked listening to tech n9ne, WHAMO, didn’t see that comin, who would have knowin. Wasn’t til later I put the pieces together. He wheirs paint n all his fans loyal (to each other). No one was packin guns or tryin to get juice(rep) like the wanna be bloods n crips, nope just had each other’s back, JUGGALO. Ya I’ve seen clips that show acts of violence on behalf of the so called “juggalos” but that was one or two. The friends I had, we loved more than anything( just would never be accepted, n kinda fond of the fact really). We would hold the door open for ppl, while grown ass adults were honkin their horn at the old farts crossing the street to slow. Not one thought popped off in my mind, maybe I should go talk to them cuz they must be “juggalo”. Nope in fact I thought they wheir rude inconsiderate jackasses. My mom raised me with respect, honesty, loyalty and moral. That hasn’t changed, no matter wat I got n the CD player.
I will tell u wat I think, might say fuck some……all the time, n I don’t care wat anyone thinks. U put them cuffs on me, cuz I decided I wanted to wheir my paint today, do it PLEASE! I won’t resist, shit I won’t say anything, I’ll hit up a lawyer, n have him do the talkin. Not only will I walk out a free man, because I have done nothing wrong. I will find some way to sue ur ass for wrongful accusations. Did I mention that one of the cops n my home town has a son, he’s a juggalo. Don’t u think his father would do something about it if it was a bad thing.
The point hear is, am I a juggalo? Yes, I listen to the music they provide n have for quite some time. I am not a gang member. I actually like to think that ima lovable character, a clown if u will. If someone is fuckin with one of my friends, I’ve got their back, weather they listen to icp or not( in fact most of my friends don’t ), that means I’m a good freind, if being a good freind means I’m gang related then so be it, but don’t ever put a label on me, in fact don’t even call me a juggalo, U STEREOTYPICAL MOTHAFUCKAS!!!

Jake says:

You know, I’ll be scrupulously fair to the FBI and point out that it wasn’t all that many years ago that rappers were getting into asinine public feuds and straight-up murdering each other over them. (I know very little about rap music, but I do know things have come to a pretty pass when fucking Eminem is the voice of reason.) ICP weren’t linked to any of that so far as I know, but I can see why a large and well organised fan following would be cause for some concern.

But. (And this is a very, very large ‘but’; insert your own joke.) Can someone please explain to me why Juggaloes are a criminal organisation but the Ku Klux Klan are apparently on the same legal footing as the Freemasons? I realise they’ve been relegated to the status of a bad joke, but come the fuck on, if lynchings and church-bombings aren’t domestic terrorism then what the hell is?

Barbara Dolman says:

just a comment on its still going on in the USA


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