“They are everywhere, but not all Juggalos are gang members.”
With these words, Det. Michelle Vasey with the Arizona Department of Public Safety began her discussion with School District staff about Juggalos and the Insane Clown Posse, the hip hop group from which the term was coined.
So, what is a Juggalo?
“About 75 percent of (Juggalos) are just fans of ICP,” she said.
“It’s how some are evolving and starting to live the ‘gangster lifestyle’ that makes us want to keep our eyes on them.”
The trend of seeing more and more “Juggalos” tied to violent crimes is a nation-wide occurrence and, according to Vasey, signs of their existence have begun to pop up in Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell.
Law enforcement authorities said during a Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition meeting last week that it’s believed some Juggalos who have been banished from Fort McDowell are living in northeast Fountain Hills.
During the Aug. 27 staff development session, Vasey and Sheriff’s school resource officer Deputy John McAtee spoke with educators about what to be on the lookout for in the classroom as a precautionary measure.
“The fact that most are not actually affiliated with the gang lifestyle is what makes this tough for us to handle,” Vasey said.
“But, in Arizona, Juggalos have been designated as a gang and that’s why a lot of schools are banning things associated with the group.”
While the group itself is not race specific or gang affiliated, many gang members have adopted the Juggalo beliefs and coupled it with their own.
It’s these more dangerous members that worry law enforcement. From graffiti to tattoos, many of the Juggalo trademarks mirror those of gang society, with the violence aspect ramping up in recent years.
In 2006, a Massachusetts Juggalo attacked a subject with a hatchet, then later killed an officer at a traffic stop, along with his girlfriend.
This case brought the gang aspect of Juggalos into the public eye, with additional murders popping up countrywide since.
Locally, 20 percent of Arizona Juggalos are Native American with Juggalo gang activity (often under unique names) reported on six separate reservations, including Fort McDowell.
Here, the Rez Crew has made itself known, the first validated gang that was established in Fort McDowell.
The leader of the group was 14 when she assaulted a local boy with an axe and, in 2008, was involved with a dog mutilation case, the first gang prosecution on the reservation.
Many violent Juggalos have actually been banned from their own reservations, leaving them to move to surrounding areas.
It’s the potential for future activities, according to Vasey, that has law enforcement acting preemptively to identify and handle possible threats.
Vasey shared Juggalo symbols, sayings, logos and more with local educators, explaining what to be on the lookout for in the classroom and beyond.
She also stressed the difference between most Juggalos and those likely to be a part of the gang lifestyle, and the difficulty in making that distinction.
Back in the early ‘90s Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler became known as the Insane Clown Posse, a hardcore underground rap duo in a genre that has become known as “horrorcore” for its exceptionally violent references.
“These songs deal with murder, rape and necrophilia, so they get no radio play, hence the ‘underground’ distinction,” Vasey said.
“But, to a Juggalo, the words of these songs are as profound as those found in the Bible.”
It’s this strong belief system and devotion to the lyrics and lifestyle that makes Juggalos a greater concern than most fan bases.
The real trick, according to Vasey, is that despite the content of the lyrics, the true Juggalo lifestyle is about family and acceptance.
“True Juggalos understand the meaning of the messages and their lessons,” Vasey said.
“It’s essentially about family for the true Juggalo, a way they can be who they are with like-minded people.”
Given ICP’s lyrics, however, the more casual fans may be prone to misinterpret the message and, in some cases, react with violence.
The first six albums by the group are known as Joker’s Cards. According to what Juggalos believe, these cards tell of the Dark Carnival, a spiritual force that, in the end, governs whether a person goes to heaven or hell.
According to the group, each “card” tells a series of stories about how to change one’s evil ways before the end times come.
According to Bruce and Utsler, the content is used as a way to open up listeners to their message before teaching them about God and how to avoid going to hell.
With such a religious backbone driving the duo’s music, their fan base of Juggalos quickly grew to thousands worldwide, at least 450 of which active members of the community are known to live in Arizona.
So now native Americans are becoming more juggalo gang affiliated , maybe it has to do with ABK……