Juggalos Classified as gang in Arizona

juggalo gang sign

SHOW LOW — Juggalos consider themselves a family and fans of a rap group’s music. But due to reported criminal acts by some of them, Show Low school administrators and police are keeping a close eye on young people who identify themselves as Juggalos.

Juggalo, or Juggalette, is the name given to fans of Detroit rap group Insane Clown Posse, a group that officially formed in the early ‘90s. The name reportedly originated from a live performance, when during a song called “The Juggla,” band cofounder Joseph Bruce referred to the audience as Juggalos. Fans reacted favorably and the name stuck.

Juggalos call themselves a family, but for law enforcement in Arizona, some groups of Juggalos are classified as a criminal street gang. According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Gang Task Force, also known as the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), a criminal street gang is “an ongoing association of persons, either formal or informal, who individually or as a group commit or attempt to commit a felony act and has at least one person who is a criminal street gang member.”

DPS identifies criminal street gang members by two of the following seven criteria: “self-proclamation, witness testimony or official statements, written or electronic correspondence, paraphernalia or photographs, tattoos, clothing or colors and ‘any other indicia of street gang membership.’”

Sgt. Jon Wisner with GIITEM said the unique thing about the Juggalos is the origins with Insane Clown Posse’s music. He said there are a large number of people who listen to Insane Clown Posse and are obviously not going around committing criminal acts. But, he said it is the offshoot groups of Juggalos meeting their gang criteria they are watching out for.

“It’s when you have a group of them that act in concert and commit a felony crime in furtherance of the gang itself,” he said.

Wisner said some other people may be classified as associates if they hang out with other known gang members. Again, he said, classification can be hard to determine since many people who like Insane Clown Posse’s music do not commit crimes or hang out with others that do.

“It really depends on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

According to a July 2008 East Valley Tribune article, a statewide group of investigators met and decided that while most Juggalos aren’t considered gang members, there were a few emerging sects which met gang classification. That feeling was reiterated by a Mesa gang detective in the article. The detective said Mesa had 34 documented Juggalos who had been arrested in connection with various crimes. A November 2008 Phoenix New Times article noted Phoenix police were investigating a string of robberies reportedly committed by self-proclaimed Juggalos.

Arizona is not the only place that has classified Juggalos as a gang. Law enforcement in Utah;` Monroe County, Pennsylvania; and Modesto, Calif., have also done it, according to internet sources.

Juggalos around the country have been blamed for homicides, kidnapping, assaults and arson fires.

Far from being flattered by the attention, Insane Clown Posse and their recording label, Psychopathic Records, have repeatedly denounced violence by their fans.

Show Low Police provided The Independent with a list of incidents dating back to June of this year involving arrests of those identified as Juggalos or crimes in which Juggalos are suspected. There are 10 incidents, eight leading to arrests, involving 10 Juggalos, all juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17. A few of the juveniles are involved in multiple incidents and some incidents had more than one suspect.

Perhaps the highest profile incident was when nine juveniles were arrested for criminal trespassing at a foreclosed home. The case also included an assault from one of those involved. Show Low Police said all those involved openly identified themselves as Juggalos.

Show Low Police and Show Low High School Resource Officer Brandon Clark said those identifying themselves as Juggalos have been involved in a variety of other incidents.

“One of them has committed aggravated assault against a police officer, one of them has committed commercial burglary,” he said. “We’ve had drug possession, we’ve had underage consumption.”

Other incidents include theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct.

Clark said Show Low police officers’ concern is the potential for the group’s behavior to escalate into more serious crimes. Because of that, he said, the department has been taking a proactive stance.

Recently, there was an incident at Show Low High School in which three students dressed in Insane Clown Posse garb were suspended from school. The incident took place Oct. 29, the Friday before Halloween.

Show Low High School Principal Farrell Adams said the kids involved were fully decked out in Insane Clown Posse gear, such as shirts, hats and shoes, and wore the face paint the group is known for. He said they were suspended “for a period of time” under school policy forbidding the wearing of gang-related apparel on campus during school hours or school activities.

Adams said due to recent criminal incidents, the school has had to adopt DPS’ policy of classifying the Juggalos as a gang. He added the school’s actions started fairly recently.

“A year ago, we didn’t have any reason to think ICP is a problem,” he said.

Adams notes that even before the Halloween incident, including Oct. 29, kids were told not to wear Insane Clown Posse gear to school. He said the school has steps of discipline for such incidents: a warning for the first offense, detention for the second offense and escalating from there.

Adams said they have dealt similarly with kids proclaiming themselves members of other gangs, telling them they cannot wear their apparel to school. He said he understands First Amendment concerns and encourages students to express themselves, but school officials have to step in if something is a distraction to the natural learning environment.

“Show Low High School wants to be a safe place for kids to learn,” he said. “(Gang members) can infringe on other students’ right to learn, and not only learn but to feel safe.

“We want kids to be able to express themselves, we just don’t want them to wear gang-related apparel.”

Given the pattern of behavior he has seen, Adams said he believes the school also has to step in early.

“I think that what we have going on is that we have a group of individuals who want to establish a gang here in Show Low,” he said. “Show Low High School’s stance is to not allow a gang to become entrenched in our school so that it becomes a major problem.”


12 responses to “Juggalos Classified as gang in Arizona

  1. Dood Why People gotta hate on us? just cause we aint like everybody else an what we believe in is actully real..cause all this bullshit you sayin is just makein us hella stronger were 80,000 deep whatcha yall got? whoop whoop juggalo4life mmfwcl to my fam everywhere even the ones who aint wit us on this day…

  2. ppl keeps puting the poor guys (IPC) THEY HAVE NOTHING 2 DO WITH A JUGGALO GANG!!! jeez leave them alone like fo real and i agree with NinJa Zz WHOOP WHOOP!!!! mmfwcl

  3. the only reason they talk shyt bout juggalos is cuz they dnt know what it is or wats it about NinJa Zz right mmfwcl WhOoP wHoOp

  4. haha where it talks about 3 kids who got suspended from show low high… those were my friends! haha yeah buddehhh! JUGGALOS FOR LIFE BABYYY! WhOoP WhOoP

  5. We don’t put ourselves out there just to be branded under the law we are real and we are family we care what happens to others in the family. We are not a gang so please don’t brand us for what we are not. Some people are confused without the story of us we stay together threw it all. MMFWCL J4L keep it real Ninjaz never give in.

  6. There are also news reports of police saying that juggalo crimes are mostly minor charges, and don’t fit in with gang life. Oh and there are also juggalo clean-up crews. I refuse to post the link cause you always change shit when people make a point. You have done so to me at least twice. Lol. Not to mention the lies you post lol

  7. The Show Low School District has labeled anyone who listens to this music as being a “gang” member. Show Low has no idea, whatsoever, what a gang is. How they have labeled this gang then all cowboys, cheerleaders, football players, and even the mormons of this community are in their own gang. After speaking to the Gang enforcement supervisor, which I did less than a week ago, he believes I should also add the police to the group of gangs in our community. It is quite sad. I even like a couple songs ICP does and I am pretty old. I must be a gang member too.

  8. Show Low Teacher

    Ok, so if you are not afraid to say that you are a “juggalo” then why hide behind a fake ID name here. Come on, be real and post your true identity. And yes Show Low DOES have an idea of what a gang is. I am from the east coast and used to live in the trenches so to speak. And when you have a group of KIDS/ADULTS committing CRIMES (so the PD, cheerleaders, football players and mormons do NOT apply here then as Liz stated) then you have a group of people who are now involved in gang activities. Do I know people who listen to ICP, Rap, and such who commit no crimes at all?? YES. Listening to the music does NOT make you a gang member…….but when you get into CRIMES such as BNE, selling/using drugs, “skittles” parties and the list goes on, then YES, you have a gang. Wake up people…..your not so innocent. So WHOOP WHOOP your ass out of here and take your lousy lifestyle with you. And that goes for ALL gangs up here on the Mountain, not just ICP.

    This misunderstood crap you peddle is just that CRAP. Your “group” of people are not misunderstood. You are trying to snow the adults as if we do not know any better.

    So be brave and post your real name. If you are proud of who you are, don’t be shy, tell us who you are. If not, then you do not belong being in a gang at all. Those in a gang are more then happy to display who they are……….come on…I dare ya!!! Are you up for the challenge???

  9. why cant we leave are kids alone about the little things. and focuse on the big problims. like the teens and the drugs that is causing the behavior not the clothes or music there choosing to lison to. im a mom of 2 teens that lison to the music and one dont break the laws or do drugs

  10. I like this shit lol. JRB!!! WOO WOOP!!

  11. 159 east burnham street battle creek michigan

    Juggalos are not a gang, we are simply fans of ones music, i plan to move to arizona and i dont want to but i have a feeling im gonna have to cover my tattoos or get tattoos over them because of this, which is just plain stupid being the fact that i have tattoos of all sorts of music i like. Granted yes there are retarded teens running around commiting crimes claiming that they are juggalos and this is the reason the FBI is doing this. In all honesty all of the juggalos i know are honest people that work for everything they have and only resort to violence when they are defending themselves. I honestly hope this all gets resolved and i can walk the street of mesa without fear of being pulled over and hand-cuffed because of my tattoos, it is my right as an american to express myself.

  12. Using the same criteria to judge gang members we can consider all law enforcement officers, all clergy, and anyone who identifies themselves as a member of a religious group as a gang member! The fact that the groups mentioned above have disavowed any knowledge or approval of the felony should not matter! Fair and equal is all we are asking for! Btw……I worked with law enforcement and have yet to meet a officer who can claim they have not committed a crime it witnessed a criminal act by a fellow officer and made an arrest of the offending officer, we know church members have committed crimes in the name of their church/religion and we know church officials have done the same and yet they are not considered gang members!
    A teacher at Show low HS made the following statements about another student to a student and the parents ” I wanted to rip her esophegeaus out” & ” I wanted to bash her over the head with a 2×4″ Mr. Darrel Adams and Brackney had the reply that those statements were made to “Motivate the student” and the teacher mrs LOpeman was not reprimanded or fired for threatening a students life! I believe that the SL school district needs to wake up and realize that the LDS. Bullies that they protect within the school system are a far greater threat to our kids than a symbol worn by fans and abused by few!

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