Horror rap duo Insane Clown Posse launched a lawsuit against the FBI on Wednesday, claiming that the law enforcement agency unfairly discriminated against the band’s fans (called Juggalos) by labeling them members of a gang.
According to the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, Juggalos are labeled members of a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” The two members of Insane Clown Posse, known onstage as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, have claimed that this designation is baseless and has led to the harassment of countless ICP fans since October 2011. In response, the duo has teamed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan to sue the FBI.
In their lawsuit, Insane Clown Posse seeks to “challenge the federal government’s unwarranted and unlawful decision to designate a musical band’s supporters as a criminal gang” on the basis that such scrutiny subjects “them to significant harm, including repeated police harassment and denial of employment.”
Insane Clown Posse claims that while several die-hard fans of their band have in fact broken the law in the past, their music and their fan community do not promote violent or illegal behavior and instead use dark themes to offer fans “hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life and the support that Juggalos give to one another.”
“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,” the lawsuit reads. “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.”
Included in the lawsuit, which contains 227 instances of the word “Juggalo” or its variants, are the stories of four non-criminal Juggalos who were questioned by the police simply for publically displaying the duo’s “hatchet man” logo in public. One plaintiff, Scott Gandy of Concord, N.C., claims he was denied entrance into the United States Army when a sergeant at an Army recruiting station discovered his Insane Clown Posse tattoos.
“The Sergeant instructed Gandy that he must remove or permanently cover his Juggalo tattoos or the Army would immediately deny his recruitment application,” the lawsuit reads. “The Sergeant said that it did not matter how virtuous a life Gandy had lived, the Army could not and would not accept him with the tattoos.”
Ultimately, Gandy spent “hundreds of dollars to undergo a painful procedure in which his Juggalo tattoos were covered with other tattoos,” but was still rejected from the Army.
Another plaintiff, Mark Parsons of Las Vegas, claims he was detained by a state trooper outside of Knoxville, Tenn. simply because the semi-truck he was driving displayed a hatchet man decal. The vehicle, owned by Parson’s trucking business Juggalo Express LLC, was thoroughly searched by the state trooper despite the fact that there were no signs that Parsons may have been freighting contraband. Ultimately, the state trooper found nothing incriminating in Parson’s truck or on his person.
Previously, Insane Clown Posse launched a lawsuit against the FBI in 2012, asking for access to any documents that led their fans being labeled a gang. Federal authorities dismissed the suit in August. Now, with the ACLU’s involvement, the duo hopes to clear its fans’ names.
Insane Clown Posse announced to fans that the lawsuit was coming by tweeting, “Big news tomarrow [sic] ninjas.”
“This represents a MAJOR victory for all Juggalos and I guaran-f-cking-tee you that if anyone was laughing at the Juggalos VS. FBI case before, no one is laughing now,” the band elaborated on its official website.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.