Join 3,494 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Juggalos Vs. The FBI, The Verdict
July 8, 2014 10:29 PM   Subscribe

The FBI will continue to get to refer to Juggalos as a gang. "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." Violent J plans to appeal.

The Michigan ACLU supported the lawsuit and Michael J. Steinberg (who you can see on a video at juggalosfightback.com,, but doesn't look like they've updated the site since the results came in) says that the root of the problem is the FBI's "arbitrary and erroneous branding" and likens trying to stop that to playing Whack-A-Mole. Vice also has some commentary on the subject about labeling and profiling.

Previously reported on here.

Oh god, THIS is what I came up with for JulyByWomen?! Well, nobody else had done it yet....
posted by jenfullmoon (44 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Violent J plans to appeal.

The name most certainly does not help the client.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


The name most certainly does not help the client.

Of course, in a truly fair and just legal system that shouldn't matter one fucking whit.
posted by item at 10:33 PM on July 8 [26 favorites]


The name most certainly does not help the client.

Of course, in a truly fair and just legal system that shouldn't matter one fucking whit.


This involves human beings, so there is literally no way that a legal system could ever be truly fair or just. That's because life isn't fair. We can work to make it fairer, but real people inhabit these rules. So I'd tell the client not to sue. Unless this was a publicity stunt. Which was probably pretty successful.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


NSFW Juggalos

Maybe not a gang, but rather more look like a loosely-connected group of Burning Man rejects. I say let them alone, as long as they stay in their cave.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:43 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Maybe they can settle and classify Juggalos as "Mostly Harmless".
posted by Hicksu at 10:44 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


If Juggalos were not a gang by FBI standards, could prisons still use membership as a pretext for solitary? Or is their list of gangs separate.
posted by squinty at 10:46 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


They're not a gang, they're just very low-church Protestants.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:59 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


This is definitely worth appealing. I have no illusions, being out in the real world and not this judge's chambers, that classifying a group as a "gang" won't lead to military-style cop raids and escalated situations.
posted by jscott at 11:18 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Sounds like this was just an FBI report that local law enforcement can use or not use as they see fit. What exactly is the cause of action here?
posted by eugenen at 11:24 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Next they'll come after the Bronies...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:34 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Sounds like this was just an FBI report that local law enforcement can use or not use as they see fit. What exactly is the cause of action here?

It's obviously not about criminal activity. It's about covering up the truth.

Fuckin' magnets. The government doesn't want anyone asking, "How do they work?"
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:55 PM on July 8 [8 favorites]


We laugh, but if the FBI won't back down on treating citizens as criminals even in a case where it's obviously, ridiculously wrong, what does that say about how they behave in lower-profile cases?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:02 AM on July 9 [37 favorites]


Previously.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:31 AM on July 9


Hate on Juggalos all you want, but they are in the right to fight the gang label. That is no small attack on freedom of expression.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:48 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


You can mock the juggalos if you want, but this is akin to a Hustler Magazine v. Falwell situation: while the appellant may be obnoxious, a core element of our 1st amendment rights has now been undermined substantially.

Musical affiliation and preference can now be the basis for a gang designation. That is to say, that Deadheads, Little Monsters, the KISS army... hell, those groups all share distinctive clothing preferences and a predilection for drugs....

Is there any nickname for the Leonard Cohen fans? Because I guess I'm a dangerous member of the Leonard Cohen Gang now.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 1:27 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


KISS Army is technically a militia.
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:23 AM on July 9 [19 favorites]


Because I guess I'm a dangerous member of the Leonard Cohen Gang now.

To be fair, the FBI doesn't know who by fire will be the first to take Manhattan, and you don't seem to by shy about declaring that you're their man.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:02 AM on July 9 [17 favorites]


Full opinion here.

I'm sympathetic to the plaintiffs, but they lacked standing. Choices quotes from the opinion:
Five of the six Plaintiffs complain of independent actions by third-parties who are not currently before the court....

Although Plaintiffs argue that partial redressability is sufficient to satisfy the constitutional standing inquiry, it is unclear how any of Plaintiffs’ requested remedies would redress the damage they claim. An injunction mandating the retraction of the 2011 NGTA, even if warranted, would not compel or enjoin any action by the various independent actors who allegedly caused Plaintiffs’ injuries, and who are not parties to this action.

This leaves Hellin. Unlike the other five Plaintiffs, Hellin does not allege that he has suffered any injury at all (at least not yet)....[H]e fears that he will suffer discipline or involuntary discharge from the Army at some point in the future because of his Juggalo affiliation. These allegations are insufficient to grant Hellin constitutional standing. “[W]e have repeatedly reiterated that threatened injury must be certainly impending to constitute injury in fact, and that allegations of possible future injury are not sufficient.” Clapper, 133 S. Ct. at 1147 (emphasis in original). Hellin’s injury relies on his fear that the Army may take action against him at some point in the future, despite the fact that by his own allegations, he has been a soldier for six years and has served with honor in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. There is no indication that Hellin’s discharge is “certainly impending” (let alone, impending at all), and Hellin’s allegations must also be dismissed for failing to properly allege constitutional standing to bring his suit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:18 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Musical affiliation and preference can now be the basis for a gang designation.

Hasn't this been standard public perception and law enforcement practice for black and Latino kids all along?
posted by spitbull at 4:29 AM on July 9 [11 favorites]


Sticherbeast wrote: Full opinion here.
What is a Juggalo? According to the complaint, Juggalos are “fans of the musical group Insane Clown Posse (“ICP”) and other bands on ICP’s independent record label, Psychopathic Records.” Although some of ICP’s music contains “hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life,” other songs fall into the genre of “horrorcore hip hop” which “uses very harsh language to tell nightmare-like stories with an underlying message that horrible things happen to people who choose evil over good.”
The opinion curiously omits both their charitable work in reading to the dead and predilection for vomiting fire in courtrooms.
posted by curious.jp at 5:41 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Sounds like this was just an FBI report that local law enforcement can use or not use as they see fit. What exactly is the cause of action here?

Would you be similarly sanguine if the FBI report to local law enforcement called eugenen a "subversive?"

These reports, and the general way that Juggalos are looked down on, always make me want to show solidarity with them. But I just can't get over that I hate. the. damn. music.
posted by tyllwin at 6:21 AM on July 9


i really really hate icp and every other band i've heard on their label. to me the music is terrible. but, i also count a juggalo as my first real love. every juggalo/ette i've ever met has had a pretty terrible life filled with abandonment, abuse, and often addictions started young (usually emulating their parents). i don't find it hard to show solidarity with them.

i do find it interesting for all the juggalo hate, how few people seem to actually know any (beyond, "those kids who dress weird at the mall").
posted by nadawi at 6:45 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Does this mean I can start telling people that the indelibly-inked Psychopathic Records logo on my arm is a gang tattoo? Or that I have to claim a gang affiliation if I ever go to jail again? Hmm.

I'm a firm believer that the majority of non-music-related juggalo hate is classism under another name, so this decision isn't particularly surprising to me, even if I do find it morally repellent and more than a little terrifying for reasons elucidated upthread.

MMFCL, y'all!
posted by divined by radio at 6:46 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I'm not saying it's pleasant to be referred to as a gang, I'm just asking what legally actionable rights were violated. The press coverage is vague on this and I can't seem to find the opinion.
posted by eugenen at 6:47 AM on July 9


This is yet another in a long series of recent decisions that make it impossible to avoid the realization that the law has become literally without meaning and the legal system (if it was ever anything more) is simply a lie backed up by guns (and increasingly by drones and military hardware).

Is there anything that defines Juggalos other than actually liking Insane Clown Posse? Is there any difference substantively between liking ICP and, as people note above, liking KISS or Leonard Cohen or the Backstreet Boys or Frank Sinatra?

Is there any real substantive difference between liking a particular type of music and liking a particular type of movies, or food, or a web site? Welcome to the Mefites. You're a gangbanger too. So are Yale graduates and Trekkies and everyone who is 5'7" tall. I mean if you can call people a gang based on liking a band, you can literally so designate any commonality among people whatsoever and the whole concept loses all meaning.
posted by Naberius at 6:47 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


Is there anything that defines Juggalos other than actually liking Insane Clown Posse?

I don't agree with this decision, but the initial reasoning behind the classification was that juggalos often wear full face makeup, which makes it hard to identify a person committing a crime. I think Anonymous and their Guy Fawkes masks are a better analogy. There aren't visual markers to identify an otherwise unrecognizable person as a Mefite.
posted by almostmanda at 7:05 AM on July 9


Oh god, THIS is what I came up with for JulyByWomen?! Well, nobody else had done it yet....


MiFi Women Spit Fire!!!


!!
posted by sammyo at 7:08 AM on July 9


i don't know that i agree that juggalos often wear full face make up - sure, when going to a show there's quite a few of them, and there are certainly some juggalos that go out in full face as a matter of course - but going back to the goth example, a really small subset of goths also wear full face makeup but it'd be silly to say all goths are a gang because of them.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I don't agree with this decision, but the initial reasoning behind the classification was that juggalos often wear full face makeup, which makes it hard to identify a person committing a crime

As I understand it, there was also the fact that Juggalo groups, like biker groups, often collaborate on drug sales. The drug business involves a lot of trust, and Juggalos, with their constant invocations of "family", are likelier to trust one another. And since they often, as noted above, come from backgrounds of abuse and addiction, the drug trade is rarely too far away.

Whether this justifies classifying them as a gang (it doesn't seem to, though I'd be interested in knowing more about what that classification means) is another question.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:18 AM on July 9


but it'd be silly to say all goths are a gang because of them.

Requisite link about a goth gang....(SLYT)
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:23 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


You can read what the FBI actually wrote here.

Note how the FBI doesn't even mention ICP at all. Their bizarre framing is that Juggalos are a loosely organized hybrid gang, with criminal subsets. This seems much more clumsy, and much less accurate, than simply recognizing them as a distinct musical subculture. Any observations of criminal behavior within the Juggalo world could flow more intelligently from that.

Face paint was not explicitly a determining factor, although I'm sure it was at least a subconscious factor in people's minds.

I can't seem to find the opinion

Linked upthread!
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:28 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


From the opinion:
However, open source reporting
suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized
subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony
assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.
It seems like it would be beneficial for the FBI to use a different term if there's a subset of juggalos that are creating a more organized crime/drug network--using the same word for the wider group would create confusion, right?

I suggest Druggalos.
posted by almostmanda at 7:36 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


#notalljuggalos
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:38 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


[they] look like a loosely-connected group of Burning Man rejects

The first of Burning Man's Ten Principles is "Radical Inclusion", which means that technically there are no "rejects". That said, I wonder how a lot of Juggalos would fare at a burner event. It would be an interesting mix of (sub)cultures.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:47 AM on July 9


They're like no one you've ever met before; they'll eat Monopoly and shit Connect-Four!
posted by Renoroc at 7:56 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I wonder how a lot of Juggalos would fare at a burner event. It would be an interesting mix of (sub)cultures.

There's a fun play (partly) about that.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:22 AM on July 9


ACLU Michigan's coverage of these events is well worth a read.

This was a bit unsettling to read, although it does answer my questions above pretty definitively (accent mine):
Scott Gandy has considered himself a Juggalo since 7th grade. ICP's music and the supportive community in the fanbase are a large part of Scott's life. Scott has always aspired to follow family tradition and serve in the U.S. military. However, Army recruiters told Scott that he would have no chance of enlistment because his Juggalo-themed tattoos were classified as gang-affiliated by the FBI. Scott spent over $800 to have his Juggalo tattoos covered with new images, but his application to the military was still denied.
Strong dislike. This month's charitable donations are definitely bound for the ACLU.



...bloop!
posted by divined by radio at 8:37 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Welcome to the Mefites. You're a gangbanger too. So are Yale graduates and Trekkies and everyone who is 5'7" tall

oh my god I am three out of four of those things I will never be able to cross the border again
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


The name most certainly does not help the client.

Being Nazis doesn't help Nazis and being the KKK doesn't help the KKK, but we still protect their rights. I think the courts will be able to see past a rapper name.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:49 AM on July 9


This is yet another in a long series of recent decisions that make it impossible to avoid the realization that the law has become literally without meaning and the legal system (if it was ever anything more) is simply a lie backed up by guns (and increasingly by drones and military hardware).

Dismissed on standing grounds. There's no attack on the Juggalos.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 AM on July 9


I'm just asking what legally actionable rights were violated.

The claimed harm was that

(a) It represents an infringement of their 1st amendment right to for association for the US government to label them in that way by imposing de-facto penalties such as impairing their chance at employment

(b) That "gang" is synonymous in this context with "criminal gang" and that for an agency of the US government to label them that way without any due process violates their rights under the 5th amendment.

Sticherbeast links the opinion upthread.
posted by tyllwin at 1:24 PM on July 9


Everything said about Juggalos -- they dress similarly, they frequently wear facepaint, a certain subset engages in criminal activity -- applies to Oakland Raiders fans. Does the FBI consider Raiders fans a gang?

Dismissed on standing grounds. There's no attack on the Juggalos.

So the FBI can arbitrarily label you a gang member, and as long as only state and local law enforcement and employers persecute you based on that designation, you have no standing standing to sue the guys arbitrarily designating you a gang member. You don't have a problem with that?
posted by dirigibleman at 3:05 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


First they came for the Juggaloes, and I did not speak out -- because Juggaloes.
posted by univac at 2:47 AM on July 10


But your Honor, they...they have make up on. Clearly that is a sign of a violent gang. I mean, look at KISS, Boy George, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry. Clearly all of that glitter is meant to distract the average bystander and then BAM they get hit with one of Katy Perry's lollypops on her outfit.
posted by stormpooper at 7:41 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


« Older The theme from Seinfeld, slowed down 1200%. [SLYT]...  |  Over the past few decades, urb... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments