Clown Scare

Clown Madness: Cops, Schools, and Media on Edge

A cop suggests putting "a cap in the first clown you see," a reporter asks if police "should keep track of sales of clown costumes," and more.

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The Great Clown Scare of 2016 shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, it is now spilling over the nation's borders: Reports of phantom harlequins lurking in the shadows have started rolling in from Canada and the U.K. too. Here are some recent high points, or low points, of the hysteria:

A cop has a suggestion: "Pop a cap in the first clown you see." In Denton, a suburb of Dallas, a police officer named Latrice Pettaway shared these thoughts on Facebook:

Facebook

Just a little dark humor on her Facebook page? Maybe. Or maybe she means it: The Dallas Morning News reports that someone then passed along a rumor (eventually debunked) that "one was already hit in the head somewhere up north today." Pettaway replied, "Great!"

In any event, limiting your remarks to Facebook doesn't seem to be a grant of immunity these days, as one man learned…

A fellow was arrested for a Facebook gag. In the two months since this scare began, we've seen several people arrested for falsely reporting creepy-clown sightings to the police. In Livingston County, New York, a man has been arrested for falsely reporting a creepy-clown sighting to his Facebook friends. From the sheriff's office's release about the incident:

Cross Creek Pictures

Christopher Hooper…posted a picture of a clown supposedly in Vitale Park in Lakeville and advised that the clown had then ran away when he snapped the picture. Hooper went on to advise people that they might not want to allow their kids "in the park at night or alone." Hooper then ended his post with "pass this on as a warning."

The post was shared almost 200 times before it was deleted. The post did cause public alarm with the recent clown issues on social media. The Sheriff's Office has been investigating the clown concerns since last week with no known credible threat but many residents very concerned.

Hooper was arrested on October 3rd and did admit to making the post, as well as photo shopping [sic] the clown picture. Hooper was charged with Falsely Reporting an Incident in the 3rd Degree. The section reads "A person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless, he or she initiates or circulates a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a crime, catastrophe or emergency under circumstances in which it is not unlikely that public alarm or inconvenience will result.

"We have many parents concerned for their children due to social media blowing up this clown issue," stated Sheriff Dougherty. "With those known concerns this man decided to make a post that caused public alarm to many residents and caused for more police resources to be wasted."

After the sheriff's office posted that on its Facebook feed, one reader raised the obvious First Amendment question: Since Cooper "didn't report it to law enforcement, and sitting in a park dressed like a clown isn't a crime," how could the arrest be justified? The sheriff's office replied with every censor's favorite lazy analogy: that the post was "equivalent to standing in a crowded theater and yelling fire."

Schools are freaking out too. Schools have reacted to the scare with varying levels of calm. This email, for example, was sent last night to parents in Seattle:

Boke Entertainment

Dear Seattle Public Schools Families:

The Seattle School District has been contacted by a number of individuals concerned about an ongoing national social media trend related to "Scary Clowns." There have been a few local news stories related to this and some of our students have received pictures of clowns. We are communicating to families to remind you and your student that if they see suspicious individuals while at school, please have them inform their teacher or principal immediately. We also ask you to report any threatening social media activity that involves Seattle Public Schools or our students to your school or the district's Safety and Security Office at (206) 252-0707. This office is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

We take safety seriously, and the security of our students is a top priority. We are working closely with Seattle Police Department to investigate all concerns related to this social media trend.

Yes, I know: Somewhere, at some point, someone might decide to shoot up a classroom while dressed as a clown. It may not be likely, but it's within the realm of physical possibility. But perhaps, at some point in the message, the school district could have mentioned that virtually none of the creepy-clown sightings over the last two months have been confirmed—and the ones that were confirmed turned out to be pranksters taking advantage of the scare? If you're going to send parents an alert, that might be useful info to include.

Especially since we're about to see a rash of "real" clown costumes on the street…

We are all clowns now. We're just a few weeks away from Halloween, so the creepy-clown hoaxes will soon be competing with tampered-treat hoaxes in the public imagination. They'll also be inspiring partygoers and trick-or-treaters. Dallas' CW affiliate reports that clown mask sales at Halloween Express, a national costume chain, are up more than 300 percent compared to last year.

The reporter, apparently trying to be constructive, then posed this question:

With all these sightings and reports of children feeling threatened, we asked former prosecutor, licensed peace officer and defense attorney Pete Schulte if law enforcement or stores should keep track of sales of clown costumes.

You will be relieved to hear that former prosecutor, licensed peace officer, and defense attorney Pete Schulte replied that they should not. Maybe we aren't all clowns just yet.

Bonus link: "A Short History of Phantom Clowns."

NEXT: Bristol University Theater Group Accused of Cultural Appropriation, Forced to Cancel Play

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  1. We just got a notification from our local public school system about this this morning. Statist fucksticks and their “Don’t be alarmed but you might notice more police officers.” nonsense are going to end up making a libertarian out of Mrs. Casual faster than my cavalier regard for the rules and subtle plyings to forego pointless and unenforceable rules ever could.

    1. Unpossible, there are no libertarian women. Perhaps she will become a clown.

    2. I just asked Mrs. Boomer whether she’d heard about the creeeeeeepy clowns terrorizing neighborhoods around America. Since she knows me she naturally assumed I was starting an idiotic joke. When I assured her this was a real phenomenon, in the news and everything, that creepy clowns were supposedly waiting in the shadows to abduct, molest, murder and rape women and children, she said, “Well, they should be easy to spot.”

    1. Makes perfect sense to me

    2. Just remember, you’ve got to hit them in the nose or they don’t die.

      1. I’ve heard rumor that, as revolting as it sounds, if you put on one of their rainbow wigs and a rubber nose you can walk among them undetected.

        1. That’s playing with fire, mad.casual. You will be outed as soon as they start piling into a car to go get McDonald’s, and you don’t fit.

      2. You beast! I can’t be laughing out loud when I’m supposed to be working!

      3. That was for Lee. Mad… you did make me smile, though.

      4. The only thing worse than clowns: zombie clowns.

      5. You must have an aural disability… I’m pretty sure it’s “toes”- they wear them big shoes so you can’t target them effectively.

      6. Lee has an “aural disability”. It’s actually “toes”!

        The shoes are to reduce your ability to effectively get a kill shot…

    3. Fuck, am I gonna be the only one standing up for clowns as an oppressed group? #WhiteFacesMatter

      1. First they came for the clowns……………..

  2. Maybe we aren’t all clowns just yet.

    Yet.

    “Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It will not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain.”

  3. Pop a cap in the first clown you see

    “Pop a cap?” What is it, 1991? Did she just watch New Jack City or something? Update your slang, Latrice; it’s embarrassing.

    1. Oh no you di-int!

      Talk to the hand, Crusty!

      1. No, Andre. Just no.

    2. What’s the current slang? Smoke? Dust? Swipe? Fleez?

      1. Pop a balloon animal in his ass.

      2. “Wipe”, like with a cloth.

        1. Rub him out?

        2. Rub him out?

          1. You gotta play them hard. You better nut up. Because they’ve swallowed enough out of you. They’re coming and if you don’t beat the clowns off you’ll be completely screwed.

            1. Phrasing!

    3. Crusty gets all his lingo from Taylor Swift fan forums and the only retro slang terms allowed are from 1989

      1. I honestly would not be surprised if Crusty was a Taylor Swift fan. Not even as a ploy to get close to some teenyboppers, but because he likes her music.

        1. He also genuinely respects her business acumen and her can-do attitude.

          1. People haven’t always been there for me, but Taylor’s music always has.

            1. Right on, brother.

            2. That is sweet, but still kind of creepy.

              1. That is sweet, but still kind of creepy.

                I try.

      2. The best definition of her music I’ve ever heard was, “Taylor Swift is as Country as a Prius.”

        1. My google search history gets weirder every day I read the comments here.

          I googled “Prius country style” hoping to see just one with the bull horns on the hood…

  4. There have been a few local news stories related to this and some of our students have received pictures of clowns.

    Pictures of clowns? Oh, the humanity! Is it time to panic?

  5. I really hope they catch one of these clowns and after removing the costume, find that they have captured Bigfoot.

    1. YOU NO TAKE STEVE SMITH ALIVE, COPPER!

  6. Slenderman panic was way cooler, with stabbings and everything. Clows are just…sad.

    1. Especially rodeo clowns.

      1. Though they do sometimes get gored.

      2. You do not want to mess with rodeo clowns. Those are some tough SOBs.

        1. It would be kind of funny if the first time some asshole tries to confront a “creepy clown” it turns out to be a rodeo clown and the wannabe vigilante gets his ass kicked.

    2. What did Peter Suderman panic about?

      1. Trump. For over a year now.

  7. The ringmaster looked a bit pasty and down
    Dying as he was to get out of town
    The lions and the tigers had gnawed at his feet
    But the lion tamers whip hurt much more than their teeth
    The Giovanni Sisters performed in a sweat
    Someone cut holes in the safety net
    The Ritzo Brothers canceled at the last minute
    But no one missed their act, there wasn’t much in it
    And after the show that night
    The clowns had the makeup wiped from their faces
    When somebody pulled a knife
    And cut off Coco’s bright red braces
    They murdered the clown
    They wiped that grin right off his face
    They murdered the clown
    Still the world’s not a funnier place, funnier place
    The kids rode the elephant heavy as lead
    I think he’d much rather have sat on their heads
    They’re ripping the horn from the Rhino tonight
    So some fat Sheik can fuck all night
    And watch out for Coco when he’s had a drink
    He’ll tickle the children right where they’re pink
    You might run away with the circus for fun
    But it looks more like somewhere that you’d run from
    You should see the fear on the dancing bears’ faces
    Take off their muzzles and check out the view
    The gypsy boys seem such colorful characters
    But you wouldn’t want them moving in next to you
    And after the whole lot has pulled out of town
    The ringmaster still looks like he’s going to drown
    He pulls out a long knife that bears his initials…

    1. THIS^

      Clowns are a creation of Loki to usher in Ragnarok. When winter lasts three years and shit starts to hit the fan, you will all be sorry you didn’t take this more seriously!

      1. ^^^^This

        1. Are those little clown hats?

  8. Wonder how the cop fellators are going to try and spin this one.

    1. “Barker recently had to go through the state Department of Human Services to regain Cheyenne after a separate incident, according to reports.”

      So she’s had her daughter taken away by child services in the past, but was still a cop? You can’t make this shit up.

      1. How much you wanna bet that her job as an officer played a role in regaining custody?

        It’s blue derp line all the way down.

    2. Quote from the article:

      There are no charges as of yet, but Bass told the Clarion-Ledger that he expects Barker would be charged with negligent homicide.

      1) If this was a non-cop, the charges would already have been filed. And any other child he has would be in custody of some “Child Protection Agency”
      2) He will get the best protection of his rights imaginable.
      3) It will probably be pled down.

    3. Two Mississippi police officers were placed on administrative leave after one of them left their daughter in her squad car for hours

      Two Mississippi police officers were placed on administrative leave after one of them left their daughter in her squad car for hours…

      I’m guessing there was a lot of cop on cop sucky-fucky going on.

  9. Like most good non child molesting adults I hate clowns but advocating for their summary execution seems a bit much. Can’t we just concentrate them in camps or something?

    1. They really should have their own separate schools.

    2. That sounds like a great idea! Who doesn’t like camp?

  10. a reporter asks if police “should keep track of sales of clown costumes,”

    That’s a clown question, bro.

    1. Forget the half-measures, it’s time to make sales of clown costumes illegal!

      1. If it keeps just one child from demanding to eat at McDonalds it’ll be totally worth it.

        1. Why hasn’t anyone sued McDonald’s for appropriating clown culture?

          1. something… something… somebody sued Brown’s Chicken something… something…

            1. What do you get when you mix a Brown’s Chicken and a dark-skinned clown?

              Brown Chicken, Brown Clown.

              1. I don’t think so!

                *thumps CMW over the head with sock full of pennies*

    2. common sense clown costume laws. 3 day waiting period registrationand ban on oversized (assault) shoes

    1. A mob of Pennsylvania college students set out to hunt clowns early Tuesday after rumors spread that one was on the loose near campus.

      ………..

      1. There were clowns on the loose alright. I cant argue with that.

    2. Nah, there was rumor that Jerry Sandusky had escaped from prison. They were running for their lives bungholes.

  11. After the sheriff’s office posted that on its Facebook feed, one reader raised the obvious First Amendment question: Since Cooper “didn’t report it to law enforcement, and sitting in a park dressed like a clown isn’t a crime,” how could the arrest be justified?

    Actually, in some states, it is illegal to wear a mask or otherwise conceal your face in an attempt to hide your identity. Not sure whether they have withstood/could withstand legal scrutiny, but they are there.

    1. I’m guessing it is because most of the previous cases involved politically disfavored groups. I’m sure that if the cops started going after six year olds trick or treating, then the laws would be dropped like a hot potato.

      1. Where I live, the law explicitly exempts persons under 12 from the mask ban – because of Halloween.

  12. Just a little dark humor on her Facebook page?

    Wasn’t there some kid from Texas who ended up in jail over a little “dark humor” on a facebook page?

  13. This clown crap is really getting on my nerves. People grow up before a 2nd amendment junkie puts a hole in your ass.

    1st Amendment junkies against 2nd Amendment junkies! Auxiliary assholes and clown defecation!

    Latrice Pettaway, I salute you.

  14. So I guess running from scary clowns is the new Pokemon Go? Kids these days…in my day we could stick with fads for longer than a week.

  15. How fast can we get a rumor going that the clowns have started wearing police uniforms?

  16. What the actual fuck?

    I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I know that there’s apparently a very real mental thing where some people are simply terrified of clowns but this ‘panic’ seems like one very serious case of the entire nation being sarcastic as hell only since it’s on the internet Poe’s Law has turned it up to 11 on the retard scale.

    1. Internet trolling comes to the real world.

  17. What a bunch of clowns

    1. Wow, how does the machine manage to keep up with current events like that?

  18. This is gonna end well when an actual clown gets gunned down in the street outside of a 6 year old’s birthday party by some random pants shitter. And of course, it won’t lead to even a microsecond of introspection on the part of the media who built up this stupid “creepy clown” hysteria. As long as they get eyeballs on screens, they don’t really care if anyone gets killed.

    1. I’m thinking it’s going to be a kid’s party getting SWATted but otherwise your crystal ball seems pretty clear.

      1. The child casualties were worth it in service to the noble cause of clown-suppression.

        1. +1 War on Clowns.

    2. And of course, it won’t lead to even a microsecond of introspection on the part of the media who built up this stupid “creepy clown” hysteria

      On the contrary, there will be a number of Clown Protection bills introduced in statehouses nationwide, and “clown” will be added to the CRA as a protected status.

      1. Thanks to backing from the LGBTQIAC Coalition (mimes, as with polygamists, excluded because they lacked vocal support from the electorate).

        Despite all manner of retarded world leaders dressed in funny costumes, clowns being oppressed throughout history and summarily denied government jobs will become part of our cultural history of shame.

        Refusing to give your fair share so a clown can pee in the women’s room while standing up will become synonymous with whipping slaves.

        1. mimes … excluded because they lacked vocal support from the electorate)

          What you did there, I see it.

    3. it won’t lead to even a microsecond of introspection on the part of the media who built up this stupid “creepy clown” hysteria

      Of course not. Hard to hold them to anything when they decide what to cover. About the only things that could do that is a huge lawsuit against a media company for pumping up the hysteria, or a congressional subcommittee issuing subpoenas to multiple editors.

    4. When the media is so large and amorphous, no individual parts of it need take responsibility for any ill effects.

      Just like bureaucracy.

    5. By “random pants shitter” I assume you mean LEO.

      1. Natch.

        I should have said “random pants shitter with no accountability and sociopathic tendencies.” Then it would have been crystal clear.

    6. What part of triggering do you not understand?

  19. Are the clowns actually committing crimes, or people just scared of them for no reason?

    Because if a few transgender people stabbed some people or took pictures in a bathroom, you would be declared a terrible bigot for suggesting others to stay away from them.

    1. Yes. I am trying to figure out what actual crimes have been committed by clowns lately. (Other than the political clowns, I mean.)

  20. “Pop a cap in the first clown you see.”

    See, this is the kind of measured, thoughtful response i expect from our nation’s law enforcement.

  21. What was the catalyst for this? Just a lotta nothing picked up by its nothing-bootstraps. Don’t moral panics (especially those with no clear?no actual?impetus) usually take a while to bloom? You might say it’s the effect of greater interconnectedness with the internet and social media, but why then does the cognizance of misinformation and nothingness seem to grow so much more slowly than the misinformation itself?

    This is microcosmic enough to study how these things actually develop. I’m sure it’s been done many times over. Any recommendations for books or such?

  22. I mean, even if there were stories of a disproportionate number clown committing crimes within a certain time frame, do the fear-mongers think it’s a widespread collusion among the clown cohorts? How and where and on what media do they think such conspiring would take place? Do the Jewish reptilian Illuminati clowns have some super special telecom technology and back rooms?

    1. Do the Jewish reptilian Illuminati clowns have some super special telecom technology and back rooms?

      Not just back rooms, smoke filled backrooms where the sinister clown cabal, lead by the Clown Pentaverate (Homey, Crusty, Bozo, Ronald McDonald, and the late Marcel Marceau) meet to hatch their nefarious schemes.

  23. I just hope that all the clowns don’t decide to retire. It’ll take big men to fill those shoes.

  24. I absolutely can not wait for this to be referred to as The Great Clown Panic of 2016.

    This is the kind of shit that needs to be going on right now. The people who really need to be rounded up and dealt with are all the tight-lipped concern trolls.

    1. Already is…

  25. “Pop a cap in the first clown you see.”

    Well, one thing is for certain. It’s going to be a verrrrrry interesting Halloween in Denton, TX, this year.

    1. Wait until the clowns and clown-sympathizers fight back with indiscretion. Clowns are notably well-armed and merciless. This is it. This is what’s going to precipitate Civil War II.

      1. Seltzer bottle vs police pistol?

        I think I know how this turns out….

        “The Officer was totally justified and used only the amount of force required to eliminate the threat.”

        1. “Whatchya gonna do, huh? We’ve swept this place. You’ve got nothing. Nothing but your bloody seltzer and your fancy balloon gimmicks. We have guns.”

          “No, what you have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty I am no longer standing, because if I am you’ll all be dead before you’ve reloaded. Beneath this greasepaint there is more than flesh. Beneath this paint there is an idea, Officer Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.”

          1. What are *you* scared for? I’m the one who has to walk home alone.

  26. Have you noticed how much makeup Hilary is wearing lately?

    1. Bill hit her, I mean, she walked into a door.

  27. Just a little dark humor on her Facebook page? Maybe. Or maybe she means it:

    WHEN IN DOUBT = SENSATIONALIZE AND PEARL-CLUTCH

  28. I’m going to be really disappointed if I don’t see a shit load of clowns this Halloween.

  29. You’re ignoring the most important part of Latrice’s posts, here, folks. She is saying that any nut who shoots a clown in fear is a “2nd Amendment junkie.” Something tells me she’s not a big fan of the Constitution.

  30. You think clowns are a pants-shitting festival? Try Florida with a hurricane. A local station was showing flooding in Jamaica this a.m. but had “Sarasota” listed at the bottom. A local Jacksonville TV station website currently has a map showing the red radar of a hurricane directly atop the city! I feel sorry for the elderly who are easily bamboozled by this crap. I was talking to a worker at Ace Hardware a couple weeks ago who said he’s constantly having to calm down frantic older folks who are worried we’re all going to die because the local news insists on hyperbole instead of facts.

    1. Just tell them about the Clownicane bearing down on them.

      1. You laugh, but I think Sharknado has already jumped the, um, you know, shark on this one. Better get your idea down on paper before someone steals it.

    2. Florida Newsman knows his audience.

  31. The Great Clown Scare of 2016 shows no signs of slowing down.

    I’m ready for the next insanely stupid meme that millenials will jump all over.

  32. I can’t wait for Halloween. I hope it’s all clowns.

  33. Who is the clown that wrote this?

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