Insane Clown Posse sues FBI. Why?

Insane Clown Posse: The rap-metal duo sued the FBI for describing their devoted fans, the Juggalos, as a dangerous gang. The Insane Clown Posse suit says that the FBI gang designation has tarnished reputations and hurt business.

The Insane Clown Posse sued the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday over a 2011 FBI report that describes the rap-metal duo's devoted fans, the Juggalos, as a dangerous gang, saying the designation has tarnished reputations and hurt business.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the group's two members, Joseph Bruce, or Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, or Shaggy 2 Dope. It also names four fans as plaintiffs.

The FBI report on criminal gangs labeled the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang." It said those who identify as Juggalos have committed assaults and vandalism, and a "small number" of them have engaged in more serious crimes.

The lawsuit contends that the gang designation violates free speech and due process rights.

"It is a quintessential civil liberties case challenging government abuse," said Michael Steinberg, the legal director of ACLU Michigan.

At a news conference in Detroit, Bruce, 41, and Utsler, 39, wore their trademark face paint. The Detroit-area pair said Juggalos are like a family, not a gang, and they want their fans purged from the report.

"Our merchandise sales are just about cut in half. ... You don't see the stickers in the back windows anymore because everyone's afraid to wave the flag in their car," Bruce said. "They're afraid they're going to get pulled over and harassed."

He said law enforcers "just fear what they don't understand."

Juggalos have lost custody of children, lost jobs and been denied housing because they're fans, Bruce said.

Saura Sahu, an attorney for the group, called the government's depiction of the Juggalos absurd.

"What would it be like if the Department of Justice decided to brand all Deadheads, not just as criminals but as criminal gang members because some of them used or even sold drugs?" Sahu said, referring to fans of The Grateful Dead. "I think we would all think that's ridiculous."

Scott Gandy, 28, is one of the four fans who are suing. He said he wanted to join the Army, but was told by a sergeant that he couldn't apply without removing or covering Insane Clown Posse tattoos. He said he spent hundreds of dollars for the painful procedure and was rejected by the Army anyway.

Brandon Bradley, 20, said he has been stopped by police and photographed because of his tattoos and attire, including a necklace with a man running with a hatchet. It is an Insane Clown Posse symbol.

"I'm proud to wear my Juggalo tattoos since they represent the love I have toward the Juggalo family ... and the message that everyone deserves to be accepted," Bradley told reporters.

In 2012, lawyers for Insane Clown Posse sued the government to get records to understand how the decision was made to include Juggalos in the gang report. They have received more than 100 pages, but most are newspaper articles about arrests. The FBI has refused to release other documents, citing exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act for sensitive material.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.