The Juggalos took on the street of Washington D.C to protest the FBI classification of them as a gang. The rally was announced last year during the annual Gathering of the Juggalos by Insane Clown Posse.
Hundreds of Juggalos offered their testimonies of how their lives have changed since being labeled as a gang.
Not so fond of being called a gang
Juggalos are fans of the group Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records hip hop group. Juggalos have developed their own idioms, slang, and characteristics.
The Gathering of the Juggalos is a notable annual festival held by Juggalos and the artists that they support. Which have included rap stars such as Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, and MC Hammer; over its first eleven events, the festival had an average attendance of about 10,000 fans. In 2010 there was a peak of 20,000.
In 2011, Juggalos were classified as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” in the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.
The report said, “most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use, and possession, petty theft, and vandalism.”
In 2014, the band and four fans sued the FBI over the classification.
“Juggalos are a ‘family’ of people who love and help one another, enjoy one another’s company, and bond over the music and a philosophy of life,” the lawsuit said.
“Organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture.”
Although the FBI has not classified Juggalos as a gang in subsequent reports, the Bureau has failed to remove or retract the label.
Gathering to protest
On Saturday, a clump of a few hundred out-of-towners gathered around the reflecting pool at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.
They didn’t come with just signs. They came with faces painted with a darker, black-and-white take on clown makeup, blond dreadlock wigs, green cat-eye contacts and oversized T-shirts bearing a red cartoon character running with a hatchet (“the Hatchetman,” as the symbol is known).
These are those Juggalos you may have heard about—or may not have heard about at all if under-the-radar music subcultures aren’t your thing. They are fans of the metro Detroit-based “horrorcore” rap group Insane Clown Posse. They came to Washington this weekend to send a message to the FBI—or “Fucking Bullshit Investigations,” as at least one T-shirt in the crowd read.
“They listed Juggalos as equals alongside highly dangerous and elaborate international criminal organizations like the Crips, the Bloods, and MS-13,” said Kevin Gill, a Juggalo and podcast host who kicked off the rally.
“As the years have gone by, the effects of this gang report have become very apparent and very, very shocking,” he added. Juggalos have been profiled by law enforcement, discharged from the military and fired from their jobs for being fans of the band.
Jason Webber, a publicist at the band’s label, Psychopathic Records, said the protest would focus attention on the treatment of the group.
“What we hope to get out of it is to get the attention of the entire world and the FBI and other political forces to drive home a simple but powerful message: Juggalos are not a gang. They are a musical subculture and family,” he told NBC News.
“The authorities may not understand the Juggalos, they may not like their music, they may not like their face paint, but it doesn’t give them the right to punish them for their beliefs”. Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, told The Daily Beast.
“The Juggalos are simply fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are.To gather and share their appreciation of music.”
Juggalos open up about discrimination
Juggalos throughout the country have been discriminated against. The testimonies offered by Juggalos prior to the actual march spoke to that.
“One concert was all it took. And now I see my children two times a week for six hours,” Crystal Guerro told the crowd on a stage built near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. She recounted how she lost custody of her kids after attending an ICP concert.
Laura King, a 30-year-old who is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in music business, spoke about how her probation officer placed her in the system as a gang member because of her Hatchetman (an ICP mascot) tattoo.
While Jessica Bonometti shared how she was fired from her job as a parole officer for “liking” a few Juggalo pictures and artists on Facebook.
Brittany Penix, a 26-year-old Juggalo from Indiana, said she came “to prove we are not a gang.”
“We support music that has changed some of our lives,” she said.
Penix became a fan of Insane Clown Posse when she was 12 and said she used to hide it because she was bullied. “We’re tired of being put down,” she said.
Scott Young, another Indiana Juggalo, said he’s been pulled over because of the “hatchetman” stickers on his car. Hatchetman is a Juggalo symbol showing the silhouette of a man holding a hatchet. It’s popular on shirts and as tattoos.
Source: LA Times