A federal judge has dismissed Insane Clown Posse’s lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department, allowing the agencies to continue classifying the group’s fans, called Juggalos, as a “gang.” According to the Associated Press’s Tuesday report, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland ruled last week that because a 2011 FBI report on gangs is “descriptive,” and not ” prescriptive,” it doesn’t break any laws. The group intends to appeal the decision.
Insane Clown Posse’s suit was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. It claimed that the FBI report’s classification of Juggalos as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” was “unwarranted and unlawful,” and prompted local law enforcement officials to harass fans wearing jewelry or other symbols of the group. The ACLU of Michigan’s legal director Michael J. Steinberg said this in a statement about the decision:
“The only way to remedy this injustice for all innocent Juggalos is to start with the root of the problem – the FBI’s arbitrary and erroneous branding of hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members. There is no doubt that the FBI created this problem and the solution begins there as well. Otherwise, we’ll be playing whack-o-mole to stop local law enforcement agencies from discriminating against our clients, when the agencies are just following the FBI’s lead.”
As the AP noted, the classification doesn’t show up anywhere in the FBI’s most recent report on gangs, however, the 2011 report is still used by local law enforcement agencies. The report details criminal activity by some self-identified Juggalos, but even the FBI’s assessment is based on the criminal activity of a small minority of participants in ICP’s fan base.
Juggalos — usually pictured wearing makeup similar to that of the ICP duo themselves — are probably best-known for their antics during the annual “gathering of the juggalos” festivals. The next one is in a couple of weeks.