Following almost three years of legal battles, a US judge has declared the government can legally continue to categorise Insane Clown Posse fans, known as Juggalos, as gang members, and presumably treat them as such. The ruling follows several lawsuits brought against the FBI by ICP.
In 2011, the FBI released a report that classified Juggalos as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” The following year, ICP members Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J filed a lawsuit against the FBI for their failure to produce any evidence that would support their categorisation of Juggalos as a gang.
In January of this year, the Michigan duo launched another suit, asking the court to declare it illegal to classify Juggalos as members of a criminal organisation, claiming doing so violated their constitutional rights and led to harassment by police, which has caused them “significant harm.”
But according to the Associated Press, US district judge Robert Cleland has dismissed ICP’s suit, saying the FBI’s report on gangs “does not recommend any particular course of action for local law enforcement to follow,” and thus does not have any concrete ramifications for the groups listed.
Speaking to Music Feeds late last year, Shaggy 2 Dope claimed that the gang classification had a significant impact on ICP fans and the band felt a responsibility to protect them. “[Fans] were getting persecuted twice as hard because they’re considered gang members,” he explained.
ICP’s case also featured testimony from four Juggalos claiming they were subjected to police harassment and other infringements for identifying with the ICP, including 20-year-old Brandon Bradley, who testified to being stopped on numerous occasions for his ICP tattoos and clothing.
During a 2012 interview with rapper Danny Brown at ICP’s annual fan event, Gathering of the Juggalos, Violent Jay claimed that as a result of the Juggalos’ classification as a gang, US alternative apparel chain store Hot Topic decided to stop carrying the band’s merchandise.
“This is not the end. We’ll keep fighting to clear the Juggalo family name,” said Violent J in a statement released by the ACLU today. “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.”
Watch: Insane Clown Posse Talk About Juggalos and the FBI
Gallery: Insane Clown Posse, Boondox, Big Hoodoo, Kid Krusher – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 05/12/2013
Photos by Rebecca Reid