Well, they say they’re going to. Before getting there, here’s a little background.
Fans of the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, better known as Juggalos and Juggalettes, are one of nature’s great gifts to comedy writers. The outside world largely sees them as white trash kids who listen to terrible music with violent lyrics, wear face paint, drink Faygo, love backyard wrestling, call each other “ninja,” and yell “whoop whoop!.” They even congregate for the annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois.
That being said, Juggalos seem generally harmless. Sure, a few overzealous ninjas will get tanked and throw rocks at a D-list celebrity at a show, but most are only as violent as the Hatchet Man decals they slap on their cars. That’s why many Juggalos went insane in the membrane when the FBI classified them as a gang.
The 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment categorized Juggalos as a “loosely-based hybrid gang,” in which many subsets “exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.” In fact, the Juggalos are legally recognized as a gang in four states (Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Utah). What’s more amusing, however, is the FBI’s reasoning behind this classification.
From the report:
“Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism. However, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales. Social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand.
The report cites a January 2011 incident in which a suspected Juggalos shot and wounded a couple in King County, Washington. It continues:
Juggalos’ disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to classify them and identify their members and migration patterns. Many criminal Juggalo subsets are comprised of transient or homeless individuals, according to law enforcement reporting. Most Juggalo criminal groups are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang. However, law enforcement reporting suggests that Juggalo criminal activity has increased over the past several years and has expanded to several other states. Transient, criminal Juggalo groups pose a threat to communities due to the potential for violence, drug use/sales, and their general destructive and violent nature.”
The report cites a January 2010 incident where two suspected Juggalos were charged with beating and robbing an elderly homeless man.
It’s pretty clear why Juggalos are annoyed. In classifying Juggalos as a gang, the FBI report cites a few incidents that have no clear connection. Due to their distinct appearance and incessant use of “whoop whoop”, Juggalos are an easier group to identify than, say, for example, people who listen to country music. Despite this reality, it is still disconcerting to see such blatant profiling against a group that calls itself an accepting family of misfits. It makes sense, then, that ICP has given fans a place to report suspected profiling.
Chances are, the FBI included the Juggalos in their report because it didn’t know what to make of them. While the aforementioned violent incidents are not necessarily indicative of the group as a whole, Juggalos tend to be a rowdy, excitable bunch that take pride in drawing attention to themselves (hence the Hatchet Man logos, the weird hairdos, the “whoop, whoop” thing, etc.). Classifying Juggalos as a gang presumably frees FBI resources that can be used to further investigate that subculture, and to determine whether further gang classification is necessary.
That’s why ICP probably has an uphill legal battle ahead. Unless ICP’s legal team can prove that Juggalos’ new gang label has a tangibly negative effect on the group – whether it be financial consequences linked to defamation, or a pattern of government profiling against Juggalos – their suit will likely prove little more than a public relations headache for the FBI. Until then, all Juggalos can do is hope for future declassification when and if the FBI deems the aforementioned incidents isolated in nature.
Should ICP actually take the FBI to court, we’ll provide updates on the case as they become available.