Juggalos vs. the FBI: Why Insane Clown Posse Fans are Not a Gang

You may already know Juggalos, the fans of Detroit horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse (ICP), from Buzzfeed lists, television shows like Workaholics, or music videos like "Juggalo Island." But, you may not know that Juggalos are one of the best examples of a self reliant (but demonized) community. 

Juggalos began to garner a lot of mainstream attention in 2011 when they were classified as a "hybrid gang" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their National Gang Threat Assessment report. The report says Juggalos could "exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence."

Juggalos at the 2013 Gathering of the Juggalos, a music festival held in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, told Reason TV that they disputed the claims made by the FBI.

"That's stereotyping pretty much," said one Juggalo. "You know people who don't listen to the music or are not a fan or a family are going to think we are violent people when they see hatchet men [emblem of Juggalos] or Juggalo stuff."

Insane Clown Posse’s members, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, agree and are suing the FBI along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, claiming that profiling Juggalos as a gang violates Juggalos' constitutional right to express themselves. Further, the gang classification could subject Juggalos to routine stops, detainment, and interrogation by local and federal law enforcement based solely on their music preferences. 

"I think it's ridiculous to consider the Juggalos a gang," says journalist Camille Dodero, who has written about Juggalos and Insane Clown Posse for Gawker and the Village Voice. "In some ways it's almost ironic. These are a group of people that no one else in America has ever cared about and then this one band gave them a sense of identity–like it was a support group."

Dodero says Juggalos often come from lower class backgrounds and although some of them commit crimes, not all of them do.

"And that's not to say that there are that many kids doing it. It just so happened that somebody caught onto the fact that those kids who have that hatchet man sometimes steal things," says Dodero. "That is part of who ICP has been reaching though, people with really bad upbringings."

ICP, who grew up in lower class households just like their fans, have targeted victims as their audience. These include kids who were homeless, came from an abusive family, or were molested. The result is a world where these young people have escaped the life they were dealt for a supportive community they've helped create. One they lovingly refer to as "family."

The FBI said it could not comment on pending litigation, but the effects of the gang label may have already impacted the next Gathering of the Juggalos. The 2014 music festival had to change locations multiple times thanks in part to the fears of local residents, fears Insane Clown Posse has said are associated with the gang classification.

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Approximately 7:56.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick. Field produced by Alex Manning and Detrick. Additional camera by Jim Epstein.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    0:26 - Holy strap-on, Batman.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    @1:25: Yarmulke Juggalo

    Mind. Blown.

  • The Late P Brooks||


    I'll go with "Too dumb to be that organized."

  • Death Rock and Skull||


  • JeffreyinSandySprings||


  • Andrew S.||

    Juggalos are a true test for me. But I figure that if I can support their constitutional rights to be as idiotic as they are, I can support anyone's constitutional rights.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Yo, yer being ignant. yo.

  • KDN||

    Oh great, now I've got Cotton Candy stuck in my head. Again. It's like 1997, much like the wicked clowns, will never die.

    I feel the need to dig up my Nintendo 64 and play WCW/NWO Revenge for hours.

  • ||

    I feel the need to dig up my Nintendo 64 and play WCW/NWO Revenge for hours.

    I'm guessing we're around the same age. That one got me right in the nostalgia.

  • PaulW||

    29 here, same thing. You just summed up my 8th grade life, haha.

  • Riven||

    What's this "dig up" nonsense? My 64 is already hooked up with OoT in the slot.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Which gang has killed more innocent people, do you suppose.

  • Deli-bro||

    What is the US Federal government, Trebek?

  • ||

    So basically if you wear masks or face paint, carry weapons and your members sometimes commit crimes, you're a gang?

    Someone ought to tell the FBI about their SWAT teams...

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    The Juggalos
    The Juggalos,
    We're in the air and everywhere
    Flyin' high
    Flyin' loose
    Flyin' free as a summer breeze
    Happy as a summer breeze

    (Kazoo solo!!!)

  • Andrew S.||

    +1 Sid and Marty Krofft

    (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters FTW)

  • Andrew S.||

    (and yes, I realize you're not referring to that show. I just loved that show.)

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    The report says Juggalos just about any group of human beings could "exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence."

    FIFY, pricks.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    One question, yo.

    Is it wrong if I use Taco Bell green sauce on a breakfast burrito I made myself?

    Juggalos for life.


  • Edwin||

    I don't know why but I love this

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Green Peps
    Chili-P (Breaking Bad!!!)
    Dab Oil
    Rolled in a flour tort.

  • Rhywun||

    Is it wrong

    Are you near a bathroom?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I've got bowels of steel.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    And dude, really? There's no kind of salsa tamer than any Taco Bell sauce.

  • Will4Freedom||

    Man, I'm old.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    God bless ICP. Juggalos really seem like a family. Having grown up in rural Indiana, I understand the demographic they attract. For the FBI to classify them as a gang shows that the gov't wants to classify us ALL into convenient groups and then criminalize us. Even if your personal tastes don't include ICP, just remember the FBI would probably classify "Reasonoids" as a treasonous gang.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    They did pay some jenky contractor to write profiles on a bunch of different libertarian affiliations. The party, the Free State Project, and so forth.

  • ||

    BTW, some politician in NoVA is suing the SPLC for classifying a group he supports (or is a member of, or started, or something) as a hate group. I guess this is a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, because I respect neither a politician nor the SPLC. I guess I hate the SPLC more, though.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • PaulW||

    SPLC is a joke.

    They're a left wing group who the left wing uses as a "legitimate" source to silence those that they do not like.

  • Malkavian||

    Dodero says Juggalos often come from lower class backgrounds and although some of them commit crimes, not all of them do.

    Others are deterred by the mystery of magnets.

  • anon||

    How do they work though!?

  • Malkavian||

    Good question. Electromagnets are easy - moving charge creates magnetic field. Static magnets though puzzle me. OK, so they have magnetic spin that creates a field, but why don't they try and realign, like electric charges do? (Positive attracts to negative and creates neutral, canceling each other out).

    I think it has to do with impossibility of particles having the same quantum number, but I never quite understood how that exclusion principle works.

    So good question.

  • PaulW||

    I think it has something to do with the conservation of angular momentum at relativistic speeds.

    Would have to touch up on my quantum mechanics a bit.

    Fascinating subject, though. I'd like to get a bit better at the math portion of it. Dragon Box just wasn't in depth enough. :)

  • ||

    Dodero says Juggalos human beings often come from lower class many backgrounds and although some of them commit crimes, not all of them do.

    Would be more accurate.

  • anon||

    and although some of them commit crimes, not all of them do we just arrest the ones that we feel like arresting anyways.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Still wrong. All people commit crimes... according to the law.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    So millions of Americans are gang-bangers due to their collective affiliation with musicians who generally run counter mainstream sensibilities? The FBI is clearly a dummy farm.

  • Jon Lester||

    And the Ivy League schools still maintain that there is no grade inflation.

  • Brett L||

    This what happens when accountants and lawyers inbreed for generations.


    "Why Insane Clown Posse Fans are Not a Gang"

    Look, OK, Mr "Libertarian-Live-And-Let-Live", that may be technically *true* and all, and maybe 'gang' *isn't* the preferred nomenclature, but in all seriousness = is that any particular argument for NOT shooting them on sight? I tend to follow the "I know it when I see it" judicial maxim of how to identify a threat to the underpinnings of our civilization, and in this particular case, when I see it, I simply think, "We're gonna need more ammo"

  • anon||

    "Damn, we're in a tight spot."



  • Agile Cyborg||

    NSA twinkie trails, man. Right to your gangster door, nigga.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Four billion hollow points ain't enough.

  • Edwin||

    I don't know which speaks worse to our culture and society, that there are these juggalos, or that the feds decided to declare them a "gang"



  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Juggalos beat up Tila Tequila. So they're better than the feds.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Meh, my music tastes have no affect on your culture and society. The feds now...

  • Edwin||

    music tastes? How about the retarded face make up and acting like a complete jagaloon?

    Anyway, onbviously the ICP people are mostly societally benign (I would say they only REPRESENT the fall of our culture, not CAUSE it), whereas the feds are actively using their power in a corrupt fashion

  • CampingInYourPark||

    I support the ICP in their right to be recognized by the government as a gang

  • waffles||

    But they already are a posse. Aren't we just splitting hairs here? Why should any religion get preferential treatment over another?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Can't they at least get tax exemption, or be allowed to write off housing their biches and hos?

  • Mongo||

    It's funny when the local pussy-rock journos claim that ICP appropriates black culture.

  • PaulW||

  • gaoxiaen||

    Especially because they inappropriate it.

  • Chocolatejeebus||

    "The report says Juggalos could 'exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.'" So could those Trekkies that dress up like Klingons at conventions (using their Batleths and armor), so could your grandmother's quilting circle (using their needles and thimbles). Any group could be a gang regardless of paraphernalia. This is just our violent, power-hungry mommies-in-government looking to assuage the Tipper Gores of the country.

  • PRX||

    reason was better when the Jerkalos didn't dominate the comments section.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Reason just is. Better is a bias located in your skull, Lurkalo.

  • Jimbo BTR||

    Dammit! Fooled again. Every time I see the word "juggalo" I think of large-breasted women gamboling on the open plain.

    Then I see the pix, read the article and feel let down and ripped off in equal amounts that the article is, in fact, about a bunch of ass-clowns.

    Not my cup of tea, musically, but not deserving of being classified as a criminal gang. The FBI is clearly trying it out to see if it'll fly. If it does it'll be open season on any readily identifiable group; thin end of the wedge and all that.

    Either that or someone at the FBI has a kid who's into ICP and the parent really hates them for it.

  • PS||

    using FBI standards, the IRS qualifies as a gang.

  • Spooky||

    I've been dying to share this for some time now:

  • girlcop63||

    Ignorance is not bliss, do a little research on these Juggalos and you will find out quickly, most of these people are involved in crime to keep the "organization" going..

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