Rappers Insane Clown Posse and four diehard fans sue over being classed by the government as a "gang."
F***in' Lawsuits, how do they work again? Insane Clown Posse and four of their most devoted Juggalos (fans) have sued the FBI and the Department of Justice after the rap unit's fan group was designated as a gang. ICP rappers Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J have sued on the basis that the alleged mis-classification of their Juggalo fans infringes on the devotees' constitutional rights.
FBI is being sued by Juggalos, fans of Insane Clown Posse. ACLU press conference. Still wearing the paint. pic.twitter.com/0TqZYBgLYD— Khalil AlHajal (@detroitkhalil) January 8, 2014
"It's time for the FBI to come to its senses and recognize that Juggalos are not a gang but a worldwide family united by the love of music," said Violent J, AKA Joseph Bruce. The lawsuit argues that the United States government made the "unwarranted and unlawful decision" to call ICP's followers a gang and that as a result had caused "significant harm."
"There has never been - and will never be - a music fan base quite like Juggalos, and while it is easy to fear what one does not understand, discrimination and bigotry against any group of people is just plain wrong and un-American," Bruce added in a statement released by the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the suit, via NY Daily News.
Each year, the Michigan band host a week-long festival, 'The Gathering of the Juggalos,' which enables fans of their music, estimated to collectively number one million in the USA, to mix and enjoy other acts. However, the event has become notorious for drug use and antisocial behaviour. In 2011 the Department of Justice designated Juggalos a "hybrid gang," a labelling that led to two fans enduring unreasonable harassment at the hands of the police, the band's lawsuit alleges.
Listed as plaintiffs in the case are four Juggalos from Nevada, California, North Carolina and Iowa, who shared details of incidents in which they believe they were subjected to unlawful harassment because of their identification with the band. Brandon Bradley alleges that Californian police "on numerous occasions" accused him of being in a gang, and interrogated about his Juggalo tattoos and clothing.
"It's unfair that police are treating fans of ICP like criminals just because of the music we like," said Bradley. "Even though the Juggalo community has had a positive effect on my life, now I feel I have to cover my tattoos in certain areas or risk being harassed by police. It's wrong to make me hide who I am."
Whereas another Juggalo, Scott Gandy, said he was not permitted to join the army because his ICP tattoo was considered a gang symbol. Despite spending $800 to have his Juggalo tattoos covered, he was still rejected from the military.
Shaggy 2 Dope, AKA Joseph Utsler summarised the offence caused by the designation and its negative connotations: "We're not a gang, we're a family. We're a diverse group of men and women, united by our love of music and nothing more. We're not a threat, a public menace or a danger to society."