It’s been almost a year since we last got an update on Insane Clown Posse‘s efforts to remove “Juggalos” from the FBI’s national database of gangs. If you recall, in September 2012, the group filed a lawsuit against the FBI for failing to reply to a Freedom of Information request explaining the gang classification criteria. The suit was ultimately dismissed, but now ICP have filed a second suit against the FBI and Department of Justice, and this time they’re backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (via Rolling Stone).
In documents filed yesterday in a Detroit federal court, ICP and four of its fans are demanding that the FBI remove “Juggalos” from its national database. Lawyers for both ICP and the ACLU allege that the profiling of Juggalos — based on their distinctive clown makeup and Hatchetman tattoos — is an “unconstitutionally vague designation” that doesn’t meet the criteria for reasonable suspicion. The filing also alleges that the classification has “since intimidated many from expressing themselves and denied them protection from unreasonable searches.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone, ACLU attorney Saura Sahu said, “The FBI had the impact they wanted: they scared people away from attending concerts and from affiliating together for the purpose of listening to music.” Sahu cited declines in attendance at last year’s Gathering of the Juggalos, where several people where arrested outside the event on various drug-related charges.
When the group’s legal battles began last year, they had originally filed a complaint that the FBI had violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide evidence justifying the Juggalos’ gang classification. Sahu added, “None of the information revealed showed any significant link between any significant percentage of the Juggalos and the kind of criminal behaviors that the Department of Justice is supposed to be targeting through these gang initiatives.”
“At first I thought, wow, that’s a compliment that our fans are that heard-of and that renowned,” Violent J explained to Rolling Stone. “Then when I realized what’s happening to the fans because of it, then everything turned around.”
The DOJ’s National Gang Threat Assessment defines a gang as a “group of at least five people engaging in violence or a drug-related crime.” While their 2011 report indicated that Juggalos were “rapidly expanding”, it also noted that Juggalos “are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang”, given their “disorganization” and “transient nature.” Juggalos are active in at least 21 states, but only four of those recognize them as a gang.
The FBI and DOJ have until March to either respond to the complaint or request for a dismissal by a federal judge. Added Violent J, “We don’t know if we can beat the FBI. But we’re damn sure not gonna sit there and accept it.”