Danger, danger — a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” that engages in “sporadic, disorganized, individualistic crime” is coming to Lincoln on Thursday.
It’s the Juggalos, fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, who — this is no joke — are listed by the FBI as a gang that commits the heinous crimes of “simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft and vandalism.”
And you thought all they did was wear face paint, drink ultra-sugary Faygo soda, go to see ICP and hold an annual Gathering of Juggalos. (It’s July 18-21 in Legend Valley, Ohio, this year, in case you want to go.)
But the FBI, along with four states, somehow determined the Juggalos were a criminal organization and listed them as such in the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, right alongside MS-13 and other violent street gangs.
That designation didn’t sit well with ICP or many Juggalos, who say they experienced unfair treatment by police and discrimination while in the military because of the gang label.
So in 2014, ICP's Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, several Juggalos and the ACLU sued the Department of Justice and FBI, arguing “organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture.”
The case, essentially, contended that individual Juggalos -- and not all ICP fans -- were responsible for any crimes they commit.
“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 read. “Inevitably, some will do so while sporting the group’s logos or symbols. 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.”
Violent J put the argument this way in a videotaped interview with TIme magazine last year: “This is no different than an AC/DC tattoo or a Prince tattoo,” he said, holding up a necklace with the group’s “Hatchetman” logo. “You could have that tattoo and you could be entered into a gang database, and if you’re sentenced for a crime, you’re sentenced as a gang member.”
That statement came during a media blitz last fall from Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope preceding a September Juggalo march on Washington, where about 1,500 ICP fans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to protest the gang designation and raise awareness of the soon-to-be-decided lawsuit.
In December, ICP and the Juggalos lost their case. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the report wasn’t a “final agency action” (legal gobbledygook for an official, legally binding rule). Therefore, it couldn’t be challenged in court.
That means it’s still on the books — and there’s no word about whether ICP will appeal the decision. My guess is probably not.
So, beware, the gang will be at the Bourbon Theatre on Thursday — along with, of course, Violent J and Shaggy Dog.
Things are likely to be safe at the show. After all, Lincoln survived when ICP played the Lancaster Events Center in 2003.
But if you’re heading to the Bourbon Thursday, I’ve got another word of warning: Watch out for flying Faygo — that stuff is really sticky.