Reported violence and criminal occurrences at the annual Gathering of the Juggalos have gained the four-day festival international attention as a hub of horrendous activity, but the Juggalos, devoted fans of Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse, maintain that being a Juggalo is really all about the love.
Mob-like actions at last weekend’s Gathering have been described by ICP’s Shaggy 2 Dope himself as “uncalled for and ridiculous” and include the throwing of rocks and human feces at celebrities on stage and the burning of portable toilets. Some local Juggalos, however, say the nationally publicized actions of the “mischief makers” do not speak for the average ICP fan.
“This is my first time going to the Gathering and I don’t want it to end because I don’t want people thinking I’m in a gang or have a gang mentality,” said Tiffany Switzer of Herrin, a Juggalo and mother of two. “It’s not fair to us good, law-abiding citizens.”
Switzer and her husband, Michael Switzer, have been ICP fans for more than a decade, saying the music and the fellowship among fans provides a love many of them never had before. The true Juggalos, she said, are good people who love each other and incidents at large festivals like the Gathering are no fault of ICP or their fans.
“I’ve read online we’re a bunch of crackheads, methheads, thugs and gangsters, but the ones we know are hardworking people,” Switzer said. “We live a good little life, but we like ICP and we like being little Juggalos.”
The Gathering of the Juggalos has caused quite a bit of grief for the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office since it moved to the location four years ago. Sheriff Tom Seiner agrees that not everyone there is out to cause problems, but says the large group of fans always allows for destructive incidents.
“There’s kids I’ve talked to that have been very nice kids, some of the most polite children you’ll talk to,” Seiner said. “When you get even them into that environment, they get on that and they see the others acting in a mob-type situation and they’ll join in.”
Seiner said he would rather the festival be moved to a location with a stronger police force capable of securing the event for the thousands of people in attendance.
“There are no regulations on the event, due to the lack of ordinances,” Seiner said. “I’d just as soon it be somewhere where there is more of an adequate police force.”