Ahead of the Juggalo curve

The rap duo Insane Clown Posse is suing the federal government for classifying its fans, called Juggalos, as a criminal gang. Uncle Sam classified Juggalos as a gang in 2011.

Stockton was ahead of Uncle Sam on that one. In 2010, a San Joaquin County prosecutor tried to get a  gang enhancement against a Juggalo facing attempted murder charges.

The judge denied the motion for reasons I outlined here — basically, that this particular Juggalo did not quite fit the definition of a criminal gangsta.

But the next year, the FBI released a report calling Juggalos a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” Now the ACLU is suing the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of the two rappers, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, as well as several fans named as plaintiffs. The ACLU alleges the classification violates free speech rights.

As this story reports, J and Dope say the government stigma has been bad for business. “Our merchandise sales are just about cut in half,” J said.

Tears of a clown.

I personally think this is government over-reach. Any crime committed by an ICP fan can be prosecuted under existing statutes. Criminalizing a class of music fans seems unnecessary and unconstitutional. But the subject is both amusing and fascinating, with a local angle, which is how I like ‘em.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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