Every year, the FBI releases its National Gang Threat Assessment List, which examines "emerging gang trends and threats posed by criminal gangs and communities throughout the United States." In 2011, Juggalos were added to the list. You already know about Juggalos, those zany, slap-happy, face-painted Faygo-swillers who have made the Insane Clown Posse their religion. Well, now they're all members of a criminal gang, and Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope from ICP are gang leaders.
Well, ICP is about to start fighting back, and they're reacting by suing the FBI. Let me say that again and make it clearer. Insane Clown Posse is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Last night, I was chilling with Joseph Bruce, AKA Violent J of ICP, in his bus at the 13th annual Gathering Of The Juggalos (I'm so happy I get to write that—thanks, VICE!). He told me that "ICP is going to do something huge for our fans, and the world. We're suing the FBI to be taken off their list. They're trying to kill our band, and we have to fight back."
In the weeks leading up to this year's Gathering Of The Juggalos, ICP's attorneys warned that "there's no telling what's gonna happen at the Gathering this year. This is the first time we had the festival now that we're a 'gang.' According to the FBI, we're all at a gang rally, and our merchandise is gang apparel."
Photo by Jim Newberry
Although currently only considered a gang in four states, law enforcement in 21 states have identified and logged criminal Juggalo subsets. In those states, if an ICP fan is on probation, and he or she wears an ICP hat to a parole meeting, that's a violation of probation for wearing gang signs.
"Let's get this straight," he continued, "a Juggalo is not a gang member. Consider a Juggalo that, 15 years ago, got a hatchet man tattoo or something. Now they've got a family, they're working in real estate or something, and they're driving home and get a speeding ticket. Next thing you know, he's in the gang file, and that will be taken into consideration in any trial. Suddenly, it ain't just somebody who fucked up, it's a gang member that fucked up, and they're getting a heavier sentence."
Violent J explained how the FBI's ruling has affected ICP's business in a major way: "When they made that list, stores like Hot Topic stopped carrying our shit, because they don't want to be selling gang apparel."
"This lawsuit isn't just for the fans. It's also for the good people who work at Psychopathic Records. There are 30 employees. Some of these people started off when we were 18 years old, but now some of them have been working here for 20 years. That's their career now. They have kids, and wives, and husbands. Next thing you know, they're working for a gang."